with silver bells and cockleshells

So living in an apartment in a fairly large city, as I do, has many benefits, but “available land to garden” is generally not one of them. (Container gardening on windowsills is right out, because I have no means of catproofing a spot for this, and my boycat is the sort who pushes things off my bedside table every morning to tell me it’s time to get up.) However! Seattle is a city with a thriving community garden program, and I put myself on the waiting list last fall, expecting that maybe by 2014 I’d have some space of my own.

Last Wednesday I got an email that there was a plot available for me in my neighborhood garden and did I still want it. Did I ever! So now I am the proud caretaker of 100 square feet of prime soil and thriving weeds. Okay, slightly less thriving weeds than they were a few hours ago, but still. I didn’t think to take a picture until I’d started working, but here’s the general state of things when I got to the garden to start messing around in the dirt this morning:


The nice clear space in the background there? That’s somebody else’s plot. Mine is the riot of crabgrass, henbit, and miner’s lettuce gone to seed. (With some thriving chives and thyme in that left corner, though. I need to plan some cooking around those.)

But I dug into it this morning, pulling things out, clearing space around the obvious intentional plantings and volunteer annuals, filling up that milk crate repeatedly with fluffy piles of weeds and depressingly small chunks of dandelion taproot. (Dandelion wine, I’m pretty sure, was an act of grim determination: “Well, we can’t kill the stuff, so we might as well drink it. Takes the edge off the frustration a bit.”) Excavating the useful things was kind of an exciting process! There are several strawberry plants, some established and others just starting from the originals’ runners. One corner has a few stubborn potatoes. There’s a little wandering trail of young arugula. I even found a few tiny sprigs of lemon balm, which smells every bit as refreshing as I remember from the garden I had as a teenager. After an hour or so I had gotten about this far:


Clearly there’s still work to do, but it’s progress! And I have a friend coming over tomorrow morning to help with that back corner and maybe a compost run before we dig in and start planting new seeds.

I’m already looking forward to those strawberry flowers turning to fruit.


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2 Responses to with silver bells and cockleshells

  1. Ann

    Yay! 100 square feet isn’t anything to sneeze at. You’ve got a nice bit of pre-existing plants to work with. Are you planning on adding anything else?

    (I know you posted this a couple of weeks ago–I’ve just discovered that my RSS was not picking up posts, so I figured you hadn’t posted in months >_<)

    • I’ve gotten a few other things in, yeah! The peas are coming up nicely, as are a few zucchini plants; there are radishes sprouting pretty exuberantly. I had hopes for the bok choi, which sprouted quickly, but then just as quickly it all got mowed down by something :(

      And I have some cherry tomatoes starting from seed on the windowsill inside, probably ready to move out into the wide world of the garden in another two weeks or so. Adventures!