Moving-in day is one of my favorites at the community gardens.
I like to see what everybody is planting. I like to hear the chatter between folks about where to make rows and how far apart the seeds should go into the ground. I like to hear the memories and comparisons to past gardens. And I like to rekindle friendships with the veteran growers as we welcome the new ones to the space.
This year, all 44 plots are rented, and a new gardener has joined The Green Thumbs. He’s in fourth grade, and he fits right in with the crowd. On Saturday, as we gathered to plant a long list of vegetables, including popcorn, tomatoes, beets, radishes, beans, peppers and jalapenos, we gave him a tour of what already has been planted – a thick patch of strawberries, a blueberry bush, and a few rows of potatoes, lettuce, snap peas and onions. Then we put him to work side by side with the other adults and kids.
He arrived carrying a packet of cucumber seeds to grow in mounds along the edge of the side fence. But he didn’t plant just cucumbers. He helped the other kids dig holes and plant marigolds around the outside of our fence to deter bugs. He carried a heavy watering can to and from the water tanks to douse the popcorn seeds planted at the front of the garden. As the newest Green Thumb, he asked the adults good questions and listened to their instructions. And when we finished for the day, he grabbed a rake with some of the other kids and swiped away our footprints to discourage the weeds from growing.
Like everyone in the garden, he helped establish a patchwork of food that he might or might not want to taste. Some of us like beets, others detest them. Strawberries are a favorite, but okra not so much. The spicy food eaters look forward to the jalapenos, whereas those with more sensitive stomachs welcome the rows of simple tomatoes. We are there to make everything grow whether we help ourselves to the different servings or not. The leftovers will go to friends, family and the local food bank.
We still have to add zucchini, squash and eggplant to the empty spaces. But the 2015 garden is established. We’ve finally moved in.