A Nomad’s Garden Comes to Rest

I knew most of it was old seed, likely wouldn’t germinate.  But I had seventeen pots, and enough good earth to fill them and then some.  Besides, the sweet potatoes were growing like they were preparing for the apocalypse, and the okra was going to be a little while yet.

So I took my soil and filled my pots, and used pack after pack of old seed: black beauty eggplant, Siam queen basil, cayenne pepper, garlic chives.  Weeks ago.

And today, my luck runs half.  Three pots of baby basils, but no sign of eggplant sprouts.  One little shoot of cayenne pepper, but the chives rolled over and slept.  There was a small rosemary bush two and a half weeks ago that isn’t quite so small anymore.  There was a golden cayenne that was demanded by boyfriend, already grown and now its peppers are yellowing to ripe.

Then there was the ginger.  I had tried this trick, trying to get a supermarket root to sprout, send off shoots.  I failed.  But a friend watched in horror as her ginger grew white nobs and sent off tight green spikes groping for light… on her counter.  I inherited this wonder root.  It’s growing in an old plastic Folgers coffee canister, with drain holes drilled in the bottom.  I see no reason to waste a perfectly good potting container just because it came with some bad coffee.

This is my garden: a series of recycled cat litter buckets, liners for decorative pots, some salvaged terra cotta sitting in a happy circle in the sun.  The okra is growing in drilled out plastic storage bins, and the sweet potatoes live in giant laundry baskets.  It’s a renter’s garden.  The bounty of a vagabond girl, just before phase B of her big move.

Come August, these buckets and pots will be moved again, across town instead of across the state.  The compost comes too.  And then?  Then there will be a yard.  I don’t quite know what to do.  It’s a vast thing to care for, to consider, and I have not been responsible for one in some time.

I want there to be pomegranates.  Blueberries.  Blackberries.  Peaches.  These things struck me all at once: I can grow them.  Here.  Rabbiteye or southern highbush.  I’m thinking about winter chills needed.  I’m thinking about soil requirements.  Rabbiteye, then.

In just a few weeks, we’ll pack ourselves in caravans, migrate a few miles north, and there we’ll stay.  I will line the walk with basil pots.  I will find ways to make planters of old machines.  I will sculpt my own garden statuary, a DIY gamer’s garden, with a shrine to Azura, and signs warning visitors away from the fish pond: “Beware of Kelpie.”

But I’ll have my own garden again.

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