When my wife and I bought our house six years ago, we took a look at our backyard and dreamed.
At the time, it was mostly bare—there was a patch of landscaping in one corner, a swing set that the previous owners left behind, and a beautiful wild cherry tree, but that was it. The fence was a Frankenstein-esque mish-mash. There was four-foot chain length on one side, four-foot wood on the opposite side, and six-foot privacy in the back (which collapsed our first year in the house due to years of underground termite damage).
It wasn't very impressive, but it was laden with potential.
We saw a day when our backyard was a veritable paradise—a brick patio, a charming pergola, a fire pit, a proper fence...
And a garden.
My wife had always had a fascination with growing her own food. She had started a garden at her parents' house when we were dating, but when we moved into an apartment, her dreams were cut a little short.
She had tried to start an herb garden in a windowsill, but it was bumped over one day as we tried to negotiate around our cramped kitchen. She tried to plant a tomato plant on the side of our building, but the maintenance crew mowed over it. At one point, she half-jokingly suggested putting a hydroponics system in our second bedroom.
So when we moved into our house, she got right to work. She built two box gardens on either side of the aforementioned patio that we built ourselves (under the aforementioned pergola). She gathered compost from my mom's farm and set to planting.
But we were working at the school then, which meant sixty hour weeks, not including the time we spent grading and planning. And while we were able to pick a few vegetables from our garden, only the hardiest plants survived. And let me tell you—we ate a lot of zucchini that fall.
The next summer, we started our business. And if we thought we were busy before, we were dead wrong.
In the years that followed, she would look at the weeds overtaking her unused box gardens and sigh, wishing she had the time.
Last month, she decided she was going to make the time for it.
She found a collection of seeds that she had picked up and never had the chance to plant. She made trays of small pots and moved them from window to window. In a couple weeks, she had dozens of starters eager to grow. Her bean sprouts reached fourteen inches in just two weeks. Watermelon plants came up with unrelenting urgency.
Last week, the final frost passed.
On her day off, she rented a pickup to haul compost and acquired about a dozen pallets for garden beds. She built a trellis over the swing set for the climbing plants. She put a mesh around the grounded beds to protect from rabbits.
Then, she put everything in the ground.
While nothing is fruiting yet, sitting here in my backyard, I can already tell that this year, we will be eating richly from our own soil. And in a society that's flooded with processed food and junk, there's something incredibly important about eating food you grew yourself.
It's going to be a good year.