For the last eight years, I’ve lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the 20th floor of an apartment in the middle of Center City Philadelphia. I realize that some might see this as an enviable position, and really, I do recognize the many perks to my home (the block and a half commute to work is a particular joy).
Nonetheless, I itch for outdoor space. For a deck on which to drink coffee in the summer and to feel the gentle heft of early morning sun, while still in my pajamas. For the ability to use the outdoors as extra refrigerator space in the winter. And for a little patch of dirt in which to grow my own tomatoes, cucumbers and climbing pole beans.
Last summer, I chatted my way into a plot in a community garden (truly, I was at a happy hour and, over specialty cocktails, managed to mention to the the very right person how I yearned for growing space). It was about a mile and a half from my apartment and yet, it was heaven to have a bit of dirt to call my own. You see, I come from people who habitually plant edible things and so existing in a state of no backyard vegetable garden has been an unfamiliar and awkward position for me, even after all those years without.
Happily, I’ll be returning to my twin bed-sized plot again this year and I couldn’t more delighted (even the profusion of mosquitoes can’t keep me away). This year I’m going to keep it simple, just tomatoes, kale and a number of herbs (last year, those damned vine borers destroyed my promising zucchini and cucumber plants. I can’t deal with that kind of disappointment again, so I’m skipping those plants for ones I know can survive the space).
I realize that lots of you have started to plan your gardens (and your canning) and may have already placed your seed orders for the year. For those of you who haven’t, I’ve got a giveaway for you. I’ve have one set of Survival Seeds* from Hometown Seeds to send off to a lucky gardener. These are non-hybrid seeds, which means that you can save the seeds from your harvest and plant them again next season. They come packaged in a sealed mylar bag and are designed to keep for years (so even if you can’t use them this year, you can pop them into a cool, dark place and plant them next spring).
For a chance to win these seeds, leave a comment sharing a memory of a garden. I’ll select a random winner on Friday, March 19, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.
*For the record, I want to say that I do not preserve food or garden out of fear or a sense of impending doom. I know that there are lots of people out there who are motivated to acquire these skills because they believe some sort of global cataclysmic is imminent. Not me. I believe in hope and the ability of love to to triumph over fear and hate. I grown food because I appreciate the sense of renewal that it offers. And I preserve because it brings me joy (sun-ripened tomatoes in January!).