One of things I was most excited about when we moved to North Carolina nearly 9 years ago, was having my own garden. When we were first married I grew as many pots of herbs and flowers (and trees) as I could fit, outside on our balcony. When we bought our house years ago, I was beside myself with excitement because I finally had the chance to grow my own veggie garden.
It is something I look forward to every year starting around February/March when we get a false Spring. I start seeing all these plants at the farmers market, and I get really tempted to buy them. We actually did do that one year because I got a little too eager, and we got a frost. It killed all the seedlings we planted and we had to go buy them again. Every year since then, my husband has to fight to contain my enthusiasm, so we don’t have a repeat, and have to buy them twice.
Since having Esmé my love of gardening has increased so much more. It was wondrous to watch something two inches tall grow into something that is almost as tall as myself, and bear countless tomatoes. But with her, it’s a whole new experience. She gets the biggest thrill watching all the plants grow, then flower, then start producing fruit.
Fun fact: Esmé didn’t like tomatoes until she tried them from our garden. We actually have to watch her now because she will sneak off from wherever we are outside to go pop a few in her mouth. Then she runs off laughing, while looking like a chipmunk because her cheeks are stuffed with tomatoes (see above). Last year Emile and I didn’t get to eat any for almost a month after they started ripening because she kept eating them!
This year was even better than the last because we had a surprise plant pop up. We composted our pumpkins into our veggie beds last fall, (and by composted I mean placed them in there and let them rot into the ground). One of our tomato plant seedlings died off, then something else sprouted up over top of it. Initially we thought it was a cucumber, because the leaves looked similar. However, as time passed, and it grew out of the first box, then into the second (again, see above), and the leaves grew bigger than my head, we thought ‘hmmmm. Perhaps this is something different.’
Sure enough it turned out we were growing a pumpkin! Now, I don’t think we had the best environment for it to grow in with all the other things crowding around it, so it turned out to be a rather small pumpkin. We harvested said pumpkin last month. I know, I know. Harvesting a pumpkin in July? But the vine was pretty much dead, and I wanted Esmé to get the chance to pick it before it was rotten. So yes. We have a pumpkin at our house and it’s only August. We are those people.
That’s the cool thing about living here in NC. You don’t have to have a green thumb to make things grow. Things just grow on their own! Our pumpkin grew from seeds that we didn’t plant. These mushrooms, (which are not edible, but still fun to explore), show up all by themselves every year. They pop up in our backyard a couple times in the summer, and then again in the fall.
Esmé likes to pretend that they’re homes for her “Troll” friends. She picks off tiny little pieces and then says “I opened the door for them, so now they can go in.”
I have loved gardens and plants for as long as I can remember. Something that was likely the result of having a grandmother who had the most amazing garden ever. She always had flowers. She had three enormous trees out front that were excellent for climbing, and she had fruit trees as well. The fact that she was able to get any of those to grow in the desert was impressive in and of itself, but she somehow made everything flourish.
Some of my favorite memories are from playing in her garden. Whether it was picking and eating apricots off of her tree, climbing the highest of all my siblings up the trees, or pretending we were explorers in a wild jungle. We always managed to have such grand adventures at her house.
Some sad day in the future, when my daughter is grown, I hope she remembers our time spent together in the garden. I hope she remembers it as magical an adventure as I had when I was little.