Backyards, while glorious in so many ways, have their limits. They often have fences to separate us from our neighbors. They have trees (also glorious) and other structures like garages and patio coverings. These things create a lot of shade, especially in the winter. In my backyard, in the winter, these things create too much shade.
All winter I have watched my garden creep along, eking out an existence with very little sunlight. I just harvested the first bunch of kale, which I sowed in September! I fantasize about tearing up the lawn, taking a swipe at the neighbor’s hedges, anything to gain another hour or two of sunlight.
The universe must have heard my deep sighs as I resigned myself to a much smaller winter garden. A couple of weeks ago I received a very interesting email sent out to a group I belong to. One of the members of this group was looking for someone with whom they could share their community garden space. A family with kids, who couldn’t keep up, but did not want to give up their plot. People wait years to get a spot at the Altadena Community Garden. I had a plot there once upon a time (before becoming a parent). I waited two years for mine and had to give it up shortly after my daughter was born.
So, after some discussion, and just a little bit of thought, I said, “Yes!” All I could think about was that wide open space, unobstructed sunlight, more room! I met with one of the board members of the garden to get my keys and was immediately reminded how lovely it is to garden in a community space. While I love gardening in my backyard, and I love the solitary time, it can indeed be quite solitary. At the community garden there are people starting up interesting garden/food related projects, folks who have decades of experience, and lots and lots of friendly company. Now I can have the best of both worlds!
I couldn’t wait to dig in, so just a few days after getting the keys I went over to start planting in the plot. It had been tilled, and it was wide open. I took both kids, crossed my fingers that I could keep the almost-two-year-old from trampling other people’s plants, threw some buckets in the car for them, seeds for me, and drove over.
While I planted a row of shell peas (yeah, more shell peas), the kids got busy digging and pouring water into the dirt. My daughter showed a new-found interest in engineering, building water ways and dams.
One of the super convenient features of our plot is that it is located close enough to the parking lot that I can leave the kids in the car while I do a quick watering. That way the almost-two-year-old’s shoes wont look like this every time I go to give the plants a drink.
Sometimes the universe has a way of listening and answering. A place to stretch out, literally and metaphorically, is exactly what I need as I prepare for spring.