Sooo… it’s true that I don’t have quite as much outdoor space as I used to have. One of the first things we did when we acquired our last property was to plant a small orchard of around forty fruit trees and a long fence line of blackberries. When we moved to our current home, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to bother growing much of anything. But the gardener within was stealthy, sneaking in flowers, herbs, and trees a little at a time.
When my husband built raised vegetable boxes for me, my interest was renewed. I began experimenting with herbs, then sowed vegetable seeds, and was thrilled to enjoy some success. In our tiny garden, just steps from the kitchen door, we now have fresh herbs and vegetables year-round. Then we planted a couple of loquat trees. And then a Meyer lemon.
Then I went crazy and purchased a fig tree, which we truly do not have space for. And then someone gave us an olive tree – we’ll have to give it a few years before we know if it will produce.
Our grandchildren love gathering food from the garden. Loquats are our granddaughter’s favorite. When their season was over, she was so sad that I rushed out and bought blackberry and blueberry bushes.
The two blueberry bushes are my first healthy ones ever. They are lovely plants, gloriously red at the moment.
And now I want more blackberries. Suddenly, I want as many food plants as I have ornamental and I definitely want as many as I can fit into our garden.
But of course, it’s not really sudden. My enthusiasm is born from a little simple success and the great satisfaction of growing fresh produce. And – perhaps most of all – our grandchildren's pleasure in picking loquats, pulling up carrots, and clipping fresh herbs for our salads.
In the past few months, I’ve added a pineapple guava and a grape vine. Last week, I bought a dwarf mulberry. I have a shopping list for January/February: persimmon, astringent until ripe - 1, Moro blood orange – 1, Meiwa kumquat – 1, Tropic Snow peach – 1, more blackberries, a dwarf peach, and a dwarf blueberry. And maybe one more grape… And a jujube.
I’ve even considered planting a pear tree. practice a little espaliering. How much space could it take if it's flattened against a wall? But somehow, I don't think my husband Joseph would be very enthusiastic. You see, I'm very reasonable where my garden is concerned. Like all gardeners are.
In the meantime, we have vegetable seedlings at long last. So much fun!
I plot and I plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes. Even then, it’s often not necessary to engage.
As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.