Monday, September 3, 2012


Here are some photos of my late-August, threadbare garden. The cabbage dried up because I didn’t water it; the lettuce bolted; the broccoli went to seed early because of said water shortage; the beets are the size of my fingernails because they never got thinned. True, I had a newborn infant born in late May when I should have been watering and thinning, and I’d love to claim that as my excuse, but the truth is my garden always looks something like this in late August. A far cry from the other gardens on this road, which the womenfolk I’m related to tend to with diligence and care and glean great harvests from which last them the year. 

I’ve spent a few minutes of my life regretting this garden disparity, but truth be told, my threadbare, neglected garden brings me great joy. I enjoy the hopefulness of planting seeds with my daughter; the pleasure of harvesting what little it gives us; the beauty of a bolted garden (the Mason jar bouquet on my kitchen table is filled with bolted broccoli, bolted greens, stray amaranth & zinnias & cosmos); and deep inside? My threadbare, ridiculously gone-to-seed garden is a reminder that my mind and fingers are busy doing other work. I was born into a family of homesteading women to whom it was considered kind of disgraceful if you didn’t grow all your own vegetables and put them up for the winter in shelf after shelf of beautifully colored jars. I saw the satisfaction that could bring as well as the self-flagellation. As much as I love homegrown tomatoes (thank you, Guy Clark) and canned peaches and dilly beans, I also love what feminism did for women. And as much as I love the homesteading movement’s rebirth, I don’t want myself (or anyone else) to feel pressure to be any one kind of woman. And so this threadbare garden? It's my little feminist postage-stamp on this hillside. Isn't it a pretty one? Let us all choose the gardens we tend to and harvest.  

(And thanks to my homesteading Mama extraordinaire, my children can still eat plenty of them homegrown tomatoes.)

Happy (gardening) morning to you all.