As I write this, a dream is growing in my backyard. Four dreams, actually – all of them French mantilla butterhead lettuces.
Granted, it’s a weak start for a garden; but then, I’m a born and bred city girl. Neither my parents nor our neighbors would have ever dared take a till to their perfect, lush suburban lawns, so it’s not in my recent lineage to garden.
However, since graduating from college, I have had this hankering to try my thumb at vegetables, but my housing locations were never right for it – until now. Having recently moved to a rural, small town and a yard bigger than our car, I decided it was time to make a dream come true.
As spring neared, I checked out organic gardening books from the library. Soon, I had picked the perfect spot for my garden and had even chosen what to plant. I was limited in the vegetable choices because my husband, a known supporter of veggiecide, willingly only consumes a few things green – one of them being peas and the other, of all vegetables, lima beans.
Then the purchasing began: seeds, top soil, fertilizer, fence posts, chicken wire, seed starter pots, peat pots. My vegetable abhorring husband was patient as check after check flew off to seed companies.
In early spring, a friend arrived with his tiller. It was a banner day for me. The dream was about to take shape. After giving my husband instructions on the tiller’s operation, the friend and I stepped back to watch. It was obvious from the get-go the tiller had the better of my husband. His face screwed with frustration as he struggled against the beast to till row after row. Our friend turned to me and declared, “He looks like a city boy.” Which, of course, he is.
I forced my husband out to the plot of brown, lonely soil yesterday to proudly show off my growing produce.
“Here,” I said, hopping on my toes and pointing to a small corner of the fenced soil. “I have four lettuces growing!”
He squinted at the tiny, green flecks emerging from the ground. “Are you sure that’s not chickweed?” he asked.
“Of course not! That’s chickweed. Over there.” I pointed to another section of the garden.
“Isn’t that where you planted carrots?” he asked. “Where are the snap peas?”
“They were supposed to germinate here. I think I need to go back to the library and read more about peas.”
He stared at the colorless soil where the peas should have been. Then his eyes began darting across the garden, seeking his favorite vegetable. “Where are the lima beans?” His voice rose a pitch.
“Over there,” I said, nodding in a northerly direction.
“Where?” He squinted again.
“I think I’d better get over to the library,” I replied lamely.
He looked back at the four ragged lettuce heads struggling for existence in the barren garden. I could see him adding up the cost of the seeds, top soil, fencing and so forth in his head. I had done this previously and arrived at the exorbitant sum of well over ten dollars for each of my lettuce heads.
He didn’t comment on the expensive lettuce. He just smiled warmly at me and walked back toward the house humming the theme from the TV show “Green Acres.”
I know my neighbors walk by my leafless, little garden and smile as they mutter “City Girl.” And yes, it’s true, but my colorless garden looks like a city girl’s dream to me.