My grandmother kept a garden out back at the house in Louisville. Every time we visited, she had a pot of vegetable soup bubbling on the stove. I hadn’t realized at the time how my grandmother had been and remained a product of her time for much of her life. One couldn’t zip up to Harris Teeter in 1918 to grab groceries. You grew what you ate, you ate what you grew, and when victory gardens were vogue/necessary during the war my grandmother pretty much had it down pat. She also lived to be 102, which is something I think about when people try to talk to me about GMOs.

For much of my youth, my father kept a garden in the backyard. I regret I hadn’t paid too much attention back then, because he also grew vegetables, rather than food I enjoyed. Tomatoes. Kale. It would end up on the table eventually, and now my father is 80. More to think about, but something to do if I want to get that far.

My first gardening attempt happened early – maybe about ten or eleven in the summer. I saved a watermelon seed and planted it in one corner of Dad’s garden just to see if it would bloom. I had no clue about gardening cycles and soil, this was merely a patch of dirt I watered every other day and watched. Eventually something green sprouted, then a vine spiraled out of the dirt, then tiny flowers opened. It got as far as a teeny tiny melon bud appearing before the weather turned cold.

One day I walked outside and the baby melon was gone. I suspect a bird swooped down and nabbed it. The vine withered with the change of seasons and I didn’t try anything again until after I got married. Since we had only a small concrete back porch at our first place, I tried cayenne peppers in a pot and produced about half a dozen bright red, gnarled fingers. Some ended up in fajitas, others in a vinegar which tasted like perpetual burning. I count that in the win column.

Over the years I’ve tried to duplicate that success but have met with a variety of failures. One spring it rained every damn day in March and drowned the earth. Another spring a murder of crows descended upon my pots and I lost the energy to try again. Most recently, the lawn crew hired by our landlord mowed and sprayed grass clippings over the pots of lavender and rosemary I bought from the nursery. Those pots are tucked behind the shed, growing tiny jungles.

I’ve yet to own a home, and if the day comes I want to plant something and grow enough food for a meal. My in laws plants corn and tomatoes which we have for the 4th, and right now we’re not allowed to do much to the back yard. So I’m left with pots again. This time, though, I’m taking things seriously:



I’d been saving the few K-Cups we have left and turning them into seed starters. Thanks, Pinterest! I’ll start with them indoors until I get some sprouts, then move them to where the crew doesn’t mow. I have cayennes and wax peppers, and sage and oregano this time around.

...and books to read while I wait.

…and books to read while I wait.

The oregano I plan to dry and make with lasagna. Not sure what I’ll do with sage. I’ve never had good luck with other herbs so may this will work. If growing sage gets me to at least 50 it’s worth the buck I spent. If you want to see how well or awful I garden, you can follow my Instagram as I record the progress.