Family’s First Vegetable Garden

Before Weeding
I’m in Michigan for two weeks and while I’m here, my sister and I are planting a vegetable garden beside my parents’ house. My grandparents are no longer around, but when they lived with us my grandpa protectively tended all the flowers in our yard, erecting a fence near his section when we got a dog and trapping chipmunks (humanely) and setting them free at the local school. Grandpa raised plants the post-war way: with copious amounts of fertilizer. I remember him mixing mysterious aquamarine liquids in white buckets (unsurprising considering the gardening books he read compared gardening to warfare).

Ready to Plant

A few of his plants still remain years later in the plot my sister and I worked this afternoon. We had to uproot some of them (along with a greater number of weeds), but think he’d be happy to know we were making good use of the space. Along with the plants, we disturbed a great variety of critters, centipedes and spiders carrying egg sacs, pillbugs, ants and many worms — some of which are documented in one of my favorite books, Teaming with Microbes. The soil in our area contains a lot of clay which can be tricky to grow in, but we’ll take our chances on lettuce, onions, carrots, yellow squash, cukes, beans, tomatoes and spinach. Or rather, Emma will take a chance. She’ll be the caretaker of our family’s inaugural vegetable garden.

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