“Almost anyone can have enough soil, light and seeds to become involved in the magic of growing things. … You may have 300 acres to work with, or three; a large and fertile garden surrounding a suburban home, or a tiny square space in the back of your city home; you may have a large balcony with space for oblong or round boxes or containers of some sort, or only a windowsill or two. Whatever it is, there is something very basic in being involved with a growing, living art form such as a garden of some sort.” – Edith Schaefer, Hidden Art
Since moving into our little Northern Virginia farmhouse almost 4 years ago, we’ve gradually learned more and more about our yard and the types of plants that will thrive here, learned more about what we want for our yard, and then added or improved upon garden beds here and there; the space is starting to look more established and like it belongs to us. There’s nothing quite like deciding you want to add a garden bed, building it, adding soil, planting seeds, watering, and patiently waiting to see those first little tips of green poking out of the dirt. There’s such a wonderful sense of ownership; my seeds, that I planted just a few days or weeks prior, are sprouting up and creating some sort of magic. And the thrill of being able to harvest fruit and vegetables that you planted, to bring them inside, and to partake just moments after plucking from the stem…it truly is wonderful. I believe that humans were made to interact with growing things, and it’s deeply satisfying to do so.
Each summer, we’ve added a bit to our vegetable garden area. This year, we have a 60′ x 8′ space. I’m learning more and more each year, and already have a list of more things to plant next year (rhubarb, garlic, salad turnips, kohlrabi, chives, etc)…it’s a never-ending process! I’m not much of a planner, and I’ve never started seeds inside. We’ll see if I get around to that next Spring… I’ve learned that gardening does not require all that much time (the idea that it does can be paralyzing); there’s the initial time of making the garden bed (which could be as simple as placing dirt in a window box) and planting the seeds. But if you weed a little here and there and water the garden, plants will grow on their own!
These photos were taken a week ago, and already our garden is about twice as full! Right now, we have a variety of herbs (thyme, rosemary, lavender, sage, oregano, a few types of basil, dill), 8 tomato plants, radishes, carrots, rainbow chard, spinach, 2 varieties of kale, 2 varieties of lettuce, and arugula. And the far end of my vegetable garden is a wildflower plot, and it’s about to bloom! Our fruit trees have struggled over the past few years, but our peaches are finally growing; I’m eager to see if they thrive and ripen…in the past our peaches were destroyed by fungus, so we’ll see…
Finding useful and beautiful tools and supplies has been a joy, as well. I love my garden tote; I keep all my small tools inside, and always bring the tote back to the garden when I’m working, so the tools are always handy. I usually garden without gloves and barefoot, unless I’m using larger, sharp tools or need help gripping something; there’s nothing like getting in direct contact with the soil. A hat is incredibly functional; it keeps the sun and bugs away from your face! As a teenager I’d wear as few pieces of clothing as possible (usually just a bikini top and teeny tiny shorts) while gardening. These days, I think I’m a bit more practical. This linen top from Kinzzza helps to protect me from bugs and sun, and keeps me cool. I never believed people when they said to wear a hat and long sleeves in the summer sun, but it truly does help! I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of Lady Farmer so I can order some of their beautiful, functional pieces, made for work & everyday wear!
As a teenager, I resented my garden chores, and would try to get them completed as soon as possible so I could go back to laying by the pool. As an adult, I find so much pleasure in the simple acts of planning, planting, watering, and weeding my garden. It truly is an art that I’m learning to love, and a wonderfully therapeutic activity. Not only are you working outdoors, but it provides an opportunity for artistic expression! And, teaching our girls about gardening and observing their enthusiasm to participate in gardening AND enjoy its fruits has been simply wonderful! They love to munch on spinach straight from the garden (and they’ve never enjoyed spinach before)! I’m so looking forward to adding more to our yard over the years, and learning more about the process! Do you have a garden of any sort? What’s your favorite part? What’s your biggest piece of advice?
Photography by Abigail Gallop
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