I got the bug. Not the bug that ate my broccoli plant. Or the bug that ruined my cilantro, either.
But I got the gardening bug.
If two months ago you had asked me what was at the top of my 10 Things I Would Never Be Caught Doing list, and what was also included in my 20 Acts To Commit Over My Dead Body file, it would be gardening. No green thumb here. Why anyone would want to work with dirt in the hot sun on bad knees was beyond me.
But now? I get it. And I'm almost embarrassed to say that I even enjoy it. If it weren't for my neighbors and their vegetable planting skills, I wouldn't be where I am today. Which is in a place of sorrow, honestly, since I'm three plants down and it's only been two weeks.
When my neighbors and dear friends Cheryl Munoz and Jenny Jocks Stelzer got together to form The Sugar Beet Co-Op, I thought, "Something wonderful for vegetable-growing junkies. How nice. Not for me." Then they started having informational sessions to share what the co-op is all about. They're providing high quality, locally sourced food produced in ecologically sounds ways and a neighborhood gathering place (read: retail establishment) for sharing and learning about all things edible. In a matter of weeks, they had the support of everyone in Northeast Oak Park. In a matter of months, they had a website, 300 t-shirts with an astoundingly beautiful logo, and a table at Oak Park's weekly Farmer's Market to spread the word. Impressive. Still, not an ounce of my being wanted to touch grimy gardening tools when I could be touching my keyboard all day long.
But then. In a neighborly act of neighborliness, Jenny offered to dig up a garden with me. She asked me to pick what I'd like to eat (she knows how to talk dirty to me) and I made my list. Suddenly it dawned on me that this was really a practical matter. That I could have a hand in growing the things I like to cook. That I'd be able to save grocery money and the food would taste better. The bug was born, and then it ran rampant.
I've been to Green Home Experts at least four times in the last week. Once I finished planting the first vegetable garden in my yard, my kids wanted their own so we dug up a second plot. Have I come to hate weeds? With all my might. While my spare time in the past was spent checking my email last month, I now angrily pull those weeds and chat with my cantaloupe seedlings as I pat down the earth around them. So what if I cradle my tomato plants with my filthy hands? It's out of love, people. Urban farmer love.
If ever you thought about harvesting your own crops, even if it's just one little cucumber plant, I highly recommend it. Not unlike the love you have for your pets, or chocolate, or your kids during naptime, it will provide you with sustainable happiness that's as shiny as the sun.
Even if you kill all of said crops in your first year.
— Jill Salzman