I live on three tenths of an acre in the village of Middlebury, Vermont with my husband and two sons. Our house covers much of the plot. My painting studio—I am a full time painter—covers the northwest corner. The remainder of the lot consists of perennial beds, a bit of lawn, a flowering crab apple, and a vegetable garden comprised of six raised beds. My commute to work is along the bluestone paths through the vegetable garden.
Three Tenths of an Acre chronicles how I grow vegetables in these raised beds. It is a way for me to think out loud about the food my family eats, where we get it from, and the place my garden has in the rhythm of a life.
Gardening is not rocket science. Any patch of earth with good soil and drainage, access to water and sunlight, can support a garden. A garden can be grown in a container, a raised bed, on a rooftop, on a balcony, in the ground, in the country and in the city. Sometimes I dream about plots of vegetables stretching all across our country, in urban pocket parks, on statehouse lawns, in yards and community spaces, on farms of all shapes and sizes.
There is more to gardening than raising vegetables, herbs and flowers. Gardening is a way to connect to primal seasonal cycles, the migrations of birds, the progress of honey bees, the feeding patterns of humming birds, the nesting and worm-hunting of robins, the hatching of insects, the rhythms within rhythms in each season. It is about planning and attempting to control, followed by giving over to something larger. It’s about harvesting fresh food, and then sharing it—and it’s preparation—with friends and family. It is conversation with fellow gardeners; it is a journey to share with would-be-gardeners. My garden grounds me on the way to my studio. I weed all the way to work.
July marks the beginning of the season of putting food by, the simmering of jams, the flash freezing of berries, beans and peas, the drying of herbs, the making of vinegars. My friends trade recipes. My mother calls with recipes for chutneys, and bread and butter pickles. Time takes off after the sowing of seeds, plants erupting, growing and maturing. We note the changes in the angle of the sun and day length when we preserve for the non growing season ahead.
Join the conversation. What would you like to grow? What are you planning, growing and eating? What is working in your garden and what isn’t? Come share.