It’s starting to feel like summer around here, and that’s got me itching for a project. After a long post-collegiate stint in New York City, a city I swore I would never, ever leave and then abruptly left for mid-American suburbia, it’s time to finally pursue something I never could when I was living in 400 square feet above a massage parlor, stacking my pots and pans on a shoe rack in the living room.
It’s time to plant a garden.
It will be my ultimate declaration that I Am A Millennial Who Settled Down, a statement that I Plan To Live In One Place For More Than Eighteen Months and also a challenge to all doubters that I Swear The Suburbs Aren’t Bad, I Mean Look At All These Dang Tomatoes.
Oh, and the tomatoes I’m going to harvest! They’ll be crisp and plump and I’ll eat them like apples, perhaps with a sprinkling of salt, but fresh from the vine, living my back-to-the-land dreams. I’ll make pasta sauce from scratch - I might have to start canning, I’ll have so many! I’ve got all this extra space to store my canned tomatoes in.
I’ll start with one raised bed.
I’m going to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, bell peppers and hot peppers. Tomatillos for chile verde! Kale, chard, collards greens, romaine lettuce - you can’t tell me romaine’s not safe to eat when I’ve pulled it from the ground myself! Kohlrabi, radishes, beets - ooh, I saw this sandwich with beet-infused mozzarella on Instagram the other day! It was in Brooklyn, but who needs to go to Brooklyn when I’ve got backyard beets? Maybe next year I’ll get a cow and make my own cheese! And I’ll have herbs, delicious fresh herbs. Thyme, rosemary, basil, cilantro. Heck, I’ve got a little corner left after all of this. Maybe I’ll even toss some dill in there.
I have become dedicated to watering.
Time was, I couldn’t keep a windowsill succulent alive. But that was old me, flippant, urban me, paying $3000/month for an apartment with an out-of-service elevator and an unaddressed gas leak. Responsible, grown-up, gracefully-graying-around-the-temples me can keep a garden watered. I’ve bought a new hose, with a ten-setting sprayer. I check the soil before I leave for work and as soon as I get home. I’ve cancelled social engagements. I have to keep the soil damp. My kohlrabi demands the damp.
I have developed a sudden and deep concern about moles.
Did you know that moles “swim” through the ground? I knew they burrowed, but to think they’re swimming out there? Swimming toward my sweet beets and crisp radishes and tangy tomatillos? I bought a solar-powered stake that screams into the ground. Swim away from the screaming. Swim away from my summer squash, you dolphins of the dirt.
The tomato plants don’t look so good.
I bought cages for the tomatoes. They’ve been sagging; I think they’re just straining under the weight of their endless possibility. How can you stand up on your own when you know you’ll be a shimmering sauce in my dutch oven (I have space for a dutch oven now!) in a Boomerang I send the Food Group Text three months from now? Cages. Cages will help them fulfill their destiny.
The squash is suffering too.
I kinda figured I’d spiral-cut them into low-calorie pasta. You see, this isn’t just soil I’m turning over; it’s a new leaf. I’m going to embrace farm-to-table eating, and I’m going to get in shape doing so. Factory farming got us here, and this is my little plot of resistance. This is where I take back my life. Are the plants supposed to be this yellow?
I don’t really like squash anyways.
The peppers don’t seem to be growing much. Also, I’m starting to worry I planted the radishes too close together - the packet said every 2 inches, but c’mon - look how many seeds are in here! I didn’t want to waste them. Next year, I’ll just plant a bigger plot. The lettuce is a little brown. No sign of the cucumbers. The dill’s looking healthy, though.
I wonder what you can do with dill.
Okay, I did some more reading. We’ve been approaching this all wrong. It was the soil. I made the rookie mistake of just getting the store-bought garden mix. It says it’s good for gardening, but c’mon - if I’m buying my dirt from the store, isn’t that just as bad as buying my vegetables from Monsanto? I’ve got to work on my terroir. I’ve started a small but robust composting operation. I’ve been eating more bananas; they say banana peels are great for it. I’m getting lots of potassium. I’m collecting coffee grounds from the neighbors’ trash. I’ve reached out to a guano guy; I’m thinking of getting my own bats next year. We’re going to make this work.
I think the tomatoes are dead.
That’s fine. That’s fine. Tom Brady and Gisele don’t eat tomatoes, and neither should I. I was looking forward to giving jarred salsa as gifts this summer, though. It’s moot anyways, the peppers never blossomed. I guess you need bees to pollinate them? I’m reading up on beekeeping for next season. No sign of the beets; I bet the moles got them. Swam right through the screams. Gosh, even my herbs are struggling. Well, except for the dill.
The dill is spreading.
The tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are a total loss; the plants have dried to crackly brown bramble. The internet says I should have sung to them; I’m signing up for voice lessons before next spring. I’ve made dip and pickles with the dill. It’s pretty good. I’ve got a lot of it, too. It’s started to move out of its row and take over where the other plants failed.
I have thirty-two square feet of dill.
Never been a big dill user, but hey, we’re going to work with what we’ve got. I’ve put it on bagels with cream cheese and sprinkled it in my stocks and I’m infusing olive oil with it and after all that I’ve only used one bunch and patches of dill have started to form throughout the yard and I guess I’ll have another bagel and the garden life isn’t as healthy if I’m eating this much cream cheese but I’ve got to use up this dill, this relentless dill.
The dill has broken containment.
I’ve scoured Pinterest for recipes. I’ve made cold noodle salad and salmon salad and dill salad and remember the lettuce failed so I’ve had to buy a lot of lettuce for the salads but the dill demands a sacrifice and I’m afraid of what will happen if we don’t appease it and I haven’t seen the dog in a couple days I think she’s out there but all I can see is dill, waves of dill, taunting me, cursing my Icarian foray into home gardenry. We tried to set a firebreak between the advancing dill and the house, but I swear I heard it laugh as it jumped the line. I fear all may be lost. We head north tonight; there are rumors of safe zones in Canada. This will be our final transmission.
I’m thinking of getting a succulent next year.