I am addicting to all things gardening. Dirty and disheveled after a day of digging makes me grin like a garden troll. When we travel, I want to visit any special botanical wonder along the way and take pleasure in seeing what everyday people plant when we walk through a neighborhood.

Yup, addicted to gardening, and I’m not afraid to say it.

Where This Came From

Some of my first memories are of gardening. Dad, planting a tomato in a pot in the tiny backyard of the place my parents first lived, a three-story brownstone on Chicago’s South Side. Mom, showing me how to gently pat soil around begonias in the shady spots along the first house they bought on the North Side. Renewing the construction-stripped backyard alongside my parents in the last house they owned.

My grandparents on my mother’s side were farmers. They left Poland the first time when crops failed in a series of bad weather years, only to return before the Great Depression hit the U.S. They came back again before WWII, settling in a city this time, but never far from someplace to grow both edibles and flowers. I guess you could say gardening is in my DNA.

I’ve lived around the U.S., and even in apartments with tiny outdoor spaces, I’ve gardened. I tried to grow rose bushes in balcony pots in Chicago (frozen to a sad death in a brutal winter) and annuals in pots on another balcony overlooking Tampa Bay in broiling sun (barely survived with constant watering). At the ranch in the foothills, I had 10 acres to play with, and I did my best over the 20 years there to fill them plot by plot.

And Today, It’s This

A half-acre with close to an empty palette surrounded this 60-year-old urban house. Over the last six years, we’ve transformed it from lawn to lush. Our veggie garden and fruit trees are a constant source of pleasure and delight, not to mention the roses and flowers and Japanese maples.

Each year, we try new things – methods, seeds or plants, pickling and canning the crops. Most often this yields in amazing results (and the occasional messes) but we love it. This year, we planted green manure and are now in the process of working that into the soil in time to direct sow seeds.

More on this year’s vegetable garden in my next post…

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