It's taken me a decade to become an adult. I moved out of my parents house a little less than ten years ago, and I only just feel like I've grown into my own. This feeling is brought into sharp relief by the planning of my first proper garden. No half-hazard pots on windowsills. A real bed, my own bed, to make and let the vegetables lie in.
The gardening bug bit me during my first undergraduate summer. My older sister was working on an organic farm at her university, and she invited me to come out for part of the summer to help out. So I spent two blissful weeks as an 18 year old bumbling around Vancouver and learning how to push salad greens dotted with edible flowers at the farmer's market (in truth, they sold themselves).
A journal entry from this period reads:
edible flowers (2004-08-12)
calendula - yellow, orange, many petals
nasturtium - odd like poppies, but petals breaking apart, 5 petals
bachelors buttons - blue, many petals, beautiful colour
When I returned home after two weeks of making ravioli by hand for the first time and summoning the courage to call boys under the fruit trees in my sister's backyard, I was hooked. I put the pictures from the farm, shot on film and printed on paper, up on my wall. For a month, I was obsessed with lemons. I made a particularly special lemon-poppy seed birthday cake in the wake of my trip to the farm. I cooked once-in-a-lifetime pesto from lemon basil I'd brought back on the plane. It was an intoxicating feeling, falling in love with fruits and vegetables and gardening.
And then I spent the next decade moving from apartment to apartment, city to city, with pots and pictures and no plot to tend.
The evidence of this time remains in the significant seed collection I stashed between 2005 and present. Ten kinds of basil seed, two types of thyme. Tomato heirlooms, optimistic watermelons, peas for climbing. Many, many edible flowers.
These seeds were planted in pots from Toronto to New York to DC, Ottawa and Cambridge. Everywhere I went, the seeds came along. But with shallow roots and short growing seasons, I never replicated that first experience on the farm. Each time I got nasturtiums to start their leaves, I would move before the flowers came. The last time I moved, my landlord mentioned he would pave over my fledgling herb garden just after I drove out of town on July 2nd. Another would-be garden gone.
It's with this past that I currently stare are the ground outside my window, scheming raised beds, wondering how far I can stretch the plot. The garden committee in my building is on board. The timeline is set. This summer, I will have my own urban farm outside my window. With time, labour, soil and wood I can build a home for carrots, peas, kale, chard, tomatoes, herbs. And even edible flowers.
Oh the places I won't go! I'm going to stay put for once, and see what grows this summer. I'm going to grow myself a home.