Essays, Personal Anecdotes, Uncategorized

Letting Nature Take Its Course: My First Year of Gardening

This morning I raised the bay window blinds to an exceptionally rain-soaked day. The fresh sprouting greens in the garden are always so vibrant amidst the backdrop of the gray, cloudy sky. I haven’t bothered to water the beds since the fall when I haphazardly shook out the seeds from the dry, bolted herbs I planted last March and lazily covered the tiny coriander and dill seeds with soil. I even buried a few garlic cloves in a row – hoping for the best. And so far, I’m amazed by the progress.

I was overjoyed last year when my mother and father-in-law helped us build our first garden. I had started growing a handful of small vegetable seedlings and herbs in little pots and was ready to transfer them outdoors. I drew up a simple plan and mapped out where the space would sit in our backyard. It wound up being a pretty space, with a long horseshoe-shaped garden bed design, stepping stones made from cut rounds of an old tree, a sitting area in the center, and an archway created from fallen branches with climbing jasmine ivy twisting around the natural twig lattice. 

The tiny seedlings emerging from the new garden quickly became a metaphor for my early pregnancy. As they grew, so did I. 

It was a nice reminder for the following months to see the plants flourishing (with little help from me) and realizing that I wasn’t going through this life-giving transformation all alone.

Just as my husband left for Europe on his first military deployment, the garden was bursting with ripened summer squash, tomatoes, wildflowers, and herbs. I came home from the airport and immediately marched outside with a knife and a colander, ready to get to work.

I spent the summertime outdoors with my daughter playing in the sunshine, picking vegetables, and reading books in our swimsuits while lounging in our splash pad. We were surrounded by the lush growth and rich colors that nourished our bodies and souls.

Eventually, the hot weather dried up our remaining plants and the leaves fell from our trees as the cool air arrived and my due date crept closer still. I started using a dehydrator to create “sun-dried” tomatoes and drying various herbs to begin refilling my spice jars.

I then froze the remaining produce and patiently waited until both my son and husband were home.

Now, with the height of the spring 2024 season approaching, I’ve been heading out to the garden each night grabbing handfuls of fresh herbs to garnish our favorite home-cooked dishes. Thai chili rice bowls, albondigas, cottage pie, white chicken chili, Tuscan spaghetti squash, and so much more. 

It’s been a beautiful year filled with change and growth, failures and triumphs, and memories to savor for a lifetime. Here’s to the seasons ahead.