Getting Zen in the Zuchini
The Garden 2

Nearly a year and a half back, when the kid started getting mobile, I was forced to uproot my rose garden. The whole puncturing an eyeball on a rosebush thing trumped that wee hobby.

For awhile there, the roses had been the only thing I specifically tended in our yard and garden, and provided a sense of pleasure, calm and well-being that's hard to explain to anybody except people who are into tending roses. I gave it up because tending a baby, while not as zen as roses, was far more rewarding - and demanding.

I'm not sure what has changed. But sometime in the past six months, the gardening bug bit my butt again.

This time around, I traded sensuals for edibles, and front (yard) for back. It took some doing, but around the same time the concrete was being poured and the team of guys was huffing and puffing and digging out the area to be cemented, I was huffing and puffing and digging out the area to be planted.

Zuchini and FlowersI took advice from better gardeners, broke that hard soil in the lower yard, tilling in proper organics and water, and created two large vegetable beds and an herb garden all rimmed with river rock. Bamboo was harvested and a bean teepee built during The Varmint's birthday brunch - a project completed with my nephew, Trajan, back in May.

I transplanted a rosemary bush (thriving) and the madarin tree (a goner) from up top. Set in three kinds of tomatoes, zuchini, yellow squash, tomatillos, strawberries, pumpkins, beans, Italian parsley, basil, thyme, peppermint and sage. I planted colorful, weedy marigolds and more aromatic rosemary to keep pests away. Grapes, avocados, lemons, apples and oranges are also growing around the property.

To look at it, my garden is nothing special. Just an old-fashioned vegetable garden. Except for the drip lines, it probably looks much the same as someone's rock-rimmed garden from 200 years ago. There is no style or design to it, it doesn't match the architecture, it's crowded and overgrown and I've made terrible mistakes with positioning, trimming and drainage.

Tomato BountyBut none of it matters. Because it's a garden, it's still beautiful. In my neighborhood, on a block with more than 20 houses, it's one of only two visible gardens. It's also my favorite escape in the world right now.

I head down to my garden each day, Makenna close behind.  There, we chill out, get a boost, get our feet dirty, unwind and grab a tasty little slice of zen pie. Butterflies and bees are always present; the vegetables and fruit are abundant and colorful and incredibly delicious. Makenna eats sun-warm tomatoes straight off the vines.

Watching the speedy transformation from spindly little shooters to hugely productive leafy plants is nothing short of miraculous. Also, the reward for your labor is multiplied when there are delicious things and babies involved. There is a ridiculous sYellow Zuchini-landense of satisfaction when you pluck a fat red tomato or a hefty zuchini from the earthy stem of one of your plants and feed your daughter with it - as if you were personally responsible for producing the goods from your own body.

Likewise, the sense of indignation and protective instinct for your plants is almost comical. I greeted the discovery of a recent hatching of neon green baby grasshoppers near my garden with maternal vigilance: Plague of locusts, begone!

Small as it is, as haphazard and funky and poorly timed, I'm loving it. Maybe next I'll plant a rosebush, just for the hell of it. 


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >