• Meditation on the Garden

    by Jesse Loren

    I feel better, faster, stronger, leaner, and keener. It might be the supplements, or the fact that school’s out. It might be that I am eating totally fresh salads! They are so zesty, made from mounds of arugula, that I feel fortified.

    ArugulaAfter chopping the arugula, I cut purple lettuce, green lettuce and some fancy swirly colored lettuce, then wash it, spin it, cut it, add currants, almonds, cut-up oranges, purple onions, and I just can’t get enough. You should try it!

    The best thing about planting salad is planting MORE salad! I made a big dense row with seeds, let the drip system do the work, hoed the weeds down, and, viola! Salad. Salad. Salad. When the plants look spent I just pull them up and toss them to the chickens. My yard is a win-win situation!

    ChickenI still have anise, which I do not know what to do with. I tried sautéing it with olive oil. Nope.

    I still have leeks and onions, eggplants, green tomatoes, oddly formed cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, and a clustershuck of potatoes I accidentally planted everywhere.

    Be careful with potatoes, they are like Tribbles on the old StarTrek. They multiply.

    Here’s what not to do. Don’t plant potatoes then abandon your garden to study Shakespeare for a summer at the GLOBE Theater. Or just don’t plant potatoes and leave them willy nilly in the ground. Why? Because they will bless you with a plant for every Potatoestiny potato you forgot to pick. Fingerling potatoes will start to sprout in your dreams and pretty soon the little fingers will become hands! Your garden will become a classroom that you will have to call on! Actually, the last part is just a dream I had.

    In reality, I have about twenty Russian fingerlings in places I didn’t know I had. They are everywhere. Everywhere, green plants, thriving and who knows if or when the potatoes will ripen underground.

    Soon there will be potatoes and rosemary, potatoes and leeks, potatoes in olive oil, roasted potatoes with other garden vegetables.

    I have volunteer sunflowers too. I don’t know what kinds yet, but they are coming up where I forgot about them last year. Did I mention green beans? Today I am going to eat them! I tasted them yesterday and they were so perfect I planted another row.

    My surprise kamikaze planting of the year is Zephyr squash. I put a seed or two next to the compost pile and two plants are proudly coming right along. I can hardly wait. It’s going to be a good squash and potato year. I am prime for my salad years. I just hope that all this growing leads to some garden boxes in my front yard.

    Oooo I hope, I hope, I hope! WHERE ARE THE GARDEN BOX FAERIES!

    Zephyr Squash


      • Judy

      • July 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm
      • Reply

      Ok, I’m jealous, also inspired. I do have tons of lettuce but other things not so much. I think the beans are growing, and I fear zucchini season but all the other stuff, no. Aim higher, I thought after I read this.


      • Jesse

      • July 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm
      • Reply

      Judy, it’s a fun place to hang out. I have been a gardener since I was a teenager. As a young adult, I ran the UC Davis Community Gardens for Verano along with my friend Alice. It was a great experience in food sharing. These days I am dedicating more of my yard to food. I am hoping to get pumpkins in this week. I need to update my sprinkler system, and I also need to figure out what to grow on a hillside that needs planting. It’s fun. I just rarely write about it.


      • Judy

      • July 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm
      • Reply

      I’m really impressed about the Davis gardens!

      I wish I could write about my garden and what happens there.


      • Jesse

      • July 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm
      • Reply

      What do you love most about gardens in Davis?



    • WOW green thumb extraordinaire.


      • Judy

      • July 4, 2011 at 11:02 am
      • Reply

      I was impressed that you worked on the Davis Community Garden.

      But what I loved about my Davis gardens, now that you ask, was that I could grow anything–Davis Austen roses that looked like peonies, really plump figs, peaches that were full and ripe. It was worth living in the heat.

      The Bay Area stints you on heat and sun. Still, I walk through my Bay area garden everyday just to feel things growing. When the flowers finally open after a really rainy spring I get this primal feeling about natural life, how it continues despite everything. Good reason to be in the garden.


        • Jesse

        • July 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm
        • Reply

        I must have been stupid, extra stupid. I meant the UC IRVINE community gardens. Sorry about typing the wrong UC.

        As to gardening in the Bay versus socal or norcal… I am a firm believer in the WESTERN Garden book. It is my bible. The pages are dog eared with notes…. I try things amend as I go, but follow the guide of planting what is appropriate for my zone. I have micro zones on my property and the Western Garden book explains those too. You probably can’t grow all of the same things as you did in Davis but you can grow similar things and other things.
        I share your primal feeling too. You must have a very green thumb.



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