Action #8: Grow Some Wonder

It is still miraculous to me that you put a seed in the dirt and after a bit, it grows into something edible or beautiful or determined or tall as a redwood. I am not known for my green thumb. My greatest achievement to date in plant management has been to keep some bamboo alive, just barely, for the past ten years. But I am ready for more.

I mentioned awhile back that we signed up our backyard as part of an urban cooperative farm, but sadly, the organization went belly up. It was a brilliant idea, but somehow paying their farmers a living wage in San Francisco was not a sustainable business model (imagine that!). We were left with a garden set up to grow things, which my neighbor with whom we share the yard promptly took over, as I was busy tending to a newborn. Seeing what she has accomplished (tomatoes galore! kale, arugula, brussel sprouts, oh my!), and now that I have a toddler who can “help” me or at least busy himself in the dirt while I garden, I decided it’s time to try my hand at cultivating a small corner of our yard.

I have no clue if this is a good time to plant or if I am doing it right at all, but I planted green beans, strawberries, pumpkins, watermelon, cabbage, broccoli and beets. It’s only been a week and I’m already seeing little sprouts popping up. I helped to create life! Now, we’ll see if I can keep them alive.

What would you like to grow?

Ample Time and Money: Transform your yard into a garden. See how much of your food you could grow yourself, like Barbara Kingsolver did for a year (she wrote about this in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle).

Limited Resources: Start out with a few pots or an indoor herb garden. Get a hanging tomato planter. Plant a tree. Watch butterflies grow, then set them free.

Busy and Broke: Try putting a seed from something you ate into the ground and see if anything happens on its own. Or grow something you don’t have to pay much attention to, like a cactus, or bamboo. Just remember to stop and wonder at its tenacity every once in awhile for inspiration.


Patience is a virtue, just not one of mine


I posted awhile back about My Farm, the organization that came and installed a veggie garden in our backyard. I didn’t really think about how long it would take until we could actually harvest food, but it’s been almost three months and we haven’t had one bite of produce yet. It’s definitely starting to thrive – the carrots and leeks have poked their green tops out of the earth, a couple tomato plants and the peas are shooting up, the potato tower is going crazy, lettuce and chard are looking beautiful – but nothing is ready yet. Not one ripe pea, not one juicy tomato. And there’s not one thing I can do about it but wait.

Similarly, being over 39 weeks pregnant is an exercise in patience. Being on the brink of completion is a little maddening, and it seems there should be something you can do to speed things up – eat labor-inducing pizza, drink wine or raspberry leaf tea or castor oil, cajole the baby into believing it’s time – but really, there’s nothing. Just like I could sing my heart out to the veggies or dowse them with Miracle Gro, they won’t be ready until one beautiful day, they’re just ready. With these things, it is completely and totally up to nature/God/the universe to ripen them enough to yield the goods, and I just have to trust that she/he/it has had a lot more practice than I have at choosing the timing for these things.

But I’m still open to suggestions. Anyone have a miracle labor inducer?



My Farm


We have a vegetable garden in our backyard! What with Michelle Obama agreeing to grow a victory garden at the White House, the increasing need for everyone to go green or else, and with a baby on the way who I’d like to feed food guaranteed to be fresh and organic, it seemed like a great idea. Now, I don’t know the first thing about growing anything, much less something I’d want to put in my mouth. The only thing I’ve ever kept alive for more than a year was a bamboo plant someone gave me back in 2001, only because the thing would probably continue to grow just fine if I never touched it again. The beautiful thing about my new garden – I didn’t have to lift a finger to put it there, nor will I to reap the harvest. It’s all done by a local organization called My Farm.

It’s ingenious. Trevor Paque, the founder, calls it a “decentralized urban farm”, and runs it like any CSA, only it’s spread out in yards across the city. I wish I had a picture of our yard before. It was wild – overgrown with weeds, full of stickers in the summer, and not a great place to hang out. My Farm changed all that today. Yep, in one day, it now looks like the picture above. And in a month or two, with a weekly visit from our “farmer” who will come over on her bike and maintain and harvest the garden for us, we’ll have a basket of veggies on our doorstep, and any excess will be sold to people in the city who can’t grow it in their yards. Call me lazy, but I call it brilliant. ‘Cause otherwise our kid would have to eat bamboo.