In order to know why I am the way I am, I think you have to first know a little more about me. I spent the majority of my childhood on a half-acre property in the suburbs of Dallas, TX in the early 90s. When my parents wanted to punish us as children, we didn’t get time out, or grounded, or bedtime without dinner, or spankings… (well okay, occasionally spankings or soap in our mouths, but that’s beside the point.) No, that would’ve been too easy. Instead, we were pulled from our beds by our feet at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to pull weeds out of the various garden beds that littered the front and back lawns. Seeing as how there was a seemingly endless supply of punishment weeds, we became pretty good kids rather quickly… only to have this task later added to the weekend chores list so that my mom wouldn’t lose her extra day laborers.
Somewhere between frustration and fire ants, I developed a need to keep the back corner garden’s strawberry patch in top shape. Whether it was my love for a perfectly sun-ripened berry or simply my fairly intense OCD at the time I’ll never know, but at the age of seven or eight I began to find a passion for gardening.
My dad has always had a green thumb, and has the insane ability to cultivate anything he plants from seed or leaf or chlorophyll vapors. Part of me thinks I wanted so badly to have something in common with him through my awkward pubescent years that I was willing to water and weed 24/7, trying to make things grow like he did, pouring blood sweat and tears into a patch of needy dirt for a good harvest and a high-five at the end of the growing season.
But despite all these things, no matter where my family lived, or what we were going through, we always had a garden. And no matter where that garden was, how bad the dirt was, or how little time I had, I always helped to keep it flourishing (and though I may not have realized it at the time, I loved every second of it.)
Fast forward to my move to Los Angeles in 2003. Though I came out west for school, I was especially excited at the potential of living in a place that was sunny and 75 year round, more so for an extended growing season than the perpetual tan. Several concrete almost windowless apartments later, all I had to show for my efforts was dead parsley and some sad house plants (save a few boyfriends with patios who ended up permanently plant-sitting.) I lucked out the year before graduation and was rewarded with a five by eight foot patio that I filled with crops of all shapes and sizes, and even spent a summer working in one hundred degree heat at a plant nursery a few miles away. But just over a year ago, my roommate moved away and I gave it all up to find a studio; even if it didn’t meet all of my supposed criteria, I feared the prospect of a new roommate more than the lack of what I considered to be frivolous wants, and I had to try being on my own in this city for once.
In the last year’s time, I realized something huge: nothing- not personal space, or proximity, or price- would ever be more important to me than having a dirt patch outside to call my own. It was not a frivolous want after all; it was a key necessity to my happiness! More than a month before my lease was up I began searching for new places with patios, balconies, good bright windows, or even the Los Angeles longshot, a real backyard.
Well I’m guessing I must have cashed in a boatload of karma points because here I am now, with more well-lit outdoor front and OMG BACKYARD SPACE! than I ever could’ve dreamed of in one of the best locations on earth. In less than a week from now I will finally finish moving all my boxes over and will be ready to get my grow on.
And now the disclaimer for this blog: having not done any in-ground planting in close to a decade, I think I’m pretty much going in head first with a little more than a bit of theory, a bunch of shovels, and a whole lot of nerve. Wish me luck and buckle up- it could very well be a bumpy ride…