I’ve made another entry into my Silver Linings of Covid list: a new garden. My youngest son would often gaze wistfully out at the vast, flat backyard that currently serves mostly as a whiffle ball field at his dad’s home. “You need a garden!” he’d lament. “We could have fresh herbs and tomatoes!” “So,” said my former husband, “build one.” And, perhaps slightly behind the optimal New England growing window curve, he did.
Like many young adults during the time of Covid-19, he found himself jobless and apartment-less, sequestered back at home. This project gave him both a raison d’etre and exercise. He and my ex planned, plotted (pun intended), and shopped and scavenged for supplies. My son favors sourcing repurposed materials rather than buying new and put his excellent skill set to use in hunting and gathering.
Slowly, the plot they’d assigned for the purpose transformed from a rectangle of sod to a leveled, clean slate of dirt thanks to a rented rototiller and many sweaty hours of labor. They transformed two-by-fours into four rectangular planting beds, and corner posts demarcated the garden’s boundaries. My son designed paths as well as spots for seating and working. He researched soils, mulches, and composting. They commiserated over what plants to sow and settled on a wide variety of allium, tomatoes, and herbs to start. As of this writing, they have largely completed the structure and begun planting.
We often lament the sorry state of store-bought tomatoes. “They taste like mealy pink cardboard,” I’ve been known to lament (not that I make a habit of snacking on mealy pink cardboard). I know people who will eat a tomato sandwich (bread, mayo, tomato slices) if it’s a “real” tomato. And why not, the rich red eponymous color, the sweet deep flavor – they need no accompaniment of paltry coagulated cold cut slices. My ex’s father used to barter with neighbors who grew the juicy jewels in their own garden to reserve a cut of the upcoming crop. I cannot wait to walk out to their backyard and harvest the home-grown variety and slice into and savor their succulent goodness.
More importantly, it has brought me joy to watch a bored, sometimes irritable (aren’t we all?) young man grow into an engaged, active, enthusiastic one from the seeds of an idea he planted himself. He may even begin to build small backyard gardens for others if demand arises. I look forward to the pride he will take in harvesting what he’s sown.