I have a confession to make. I am not a good gardener. You might think that, from all of my expertise in plant identification, my knowledge of invasive and native weeds, my PhD in pollination ecology, that I would be a FANTASTIC gardener. But, at best, I am a messy (but productive) gardener.
There, I said it. I feel better already.
I am a member of a community garden which comprises 90 12ft (3.65 m) x15ft (4.5 m) plots. These plots range from the beautiful manicured, perfectly organized garden, with climbing beans and caged tomatoes growing next to tidy flower beds…to piles of weeds ready to bloom and disperse, and everything in between. I’m in the in between.
My garden is always weed-free. And absolutely never tidy. Sprawling tomato plants crawl over oddly-shaped, fat zucchinis and beans with leaves that have more holes than greenery. The potatoes and blood-red beets poke above ground with little gnaw-marks from rabbits decorating their sides. There is a pile of okra getting woody, and volunteer dill weed everywhere. There are way more jalapeno peppers than a single human could ever eat in one summer.
Only one cucumber plant survives and it just gets bigger and bigger, but never produces any fruit or flowers. I have no idea why. There is a carrot patch with just one carrot, which will be half a meter long by the time I pull it out of the ground.
I tend my garden with bare feet and messy hair, while listening to music and accidentally popping fallen tomatoes between my toes.
My plot may not be neat or attractive, but it does feed me. Every year, I recklessly throw seeds at the barren spring ground and every year I can subsist for at least a couple of weeks during the summer off of my garden plot. And, every year, munching happily away on a stew of swiss chard and my own organic potatoes, with bright orange tomatoes bursting sweetly between my teeth, and beets staining my lips, I feel quite happy to be a messy, muddy, barefoot gardener.