Last year, about a month or so into the pandemic, we decided to take up gardening. I purchased a raised garden bed, we purchased bags of dirt and chicken poop, and a variety of starter plants, like zucchini, tomatoes, cantaloupe, bell peppers, and strawberries. Everything grew well enough to give me the idea that maybe I could actually grow some things.
I went on a frenzy of buying seeds from various Etsy shops, including heirloom tomatoes, leeks, carrots, lettuce, arugula, jalapenos, cilantro, onions (yes, I was thinking salsa), and other stuff.
Every morning, I went outside to check how my garden was growing. I would get so excited as I would see the little seedlings making their way through the soil.
My tomatoes and zucchini were immensely successful in growing. We also enjoyed lettuce and arugula. The various peppers that I was growing came in at various times and made great additions to salsa I ended up making and canning.
Last summer proved harsh to some of the stuff I planted a little later in the spring. We had a hot summer which was preceded by a dry spring. This led to a lot of fires in our area. We had to be evacuated at one point. Another day when we woke up, it looked like we had awoken on Mars. There was so much smoke in the air that everything was orange and red tinged. It was eery and surreal.
Despite the challenges that summer presented, we grew a lot of beautiful stuff. We had so many tomatoes and zucchini that I was able to do quite a bit of canning. I made and canned zucchini relish, tomato chutney (as a not-fan of catsup, this is far and away a much better condiment), salsa (red and verde), and tomato sauce. We also had a lot of plums, so I made a plum sauce which is divine.
This year, I started my planting earlier. There is something so soothing to me, getting my hands in the dirt, replanting plant babies, and watching them grow. I bought a few different types of flowers this year, so I’m excited to see them grow and flower. I grew a broccoli last fall that is still growing and it has beautiful yellow flowers that the bees seem to love. I hope to be more successful with the cucumbers I’ve planted, so I can try to pickle some.
My husband has a large backyard (around a 1/3rd of an acre, I believe) with quite a bit of it unfinished. I have visions of lots of garden beds, a walking path with different types of clover and other ground cover growing, lots of pretty flowers and a fairy garden. Last year, my focus was getting a few garden beds and growing veggies. This year, I’m doing a little bit more planning around making stuff grow from the ground.
Even though California doesn’t have much in the way of “seasons,” preparing for and actually planting things in my garden has helped to usher in my favorite time of year.