guest blogger: chef Linda:

I spent a lot of time in my garden this afternoon. Gardening in this altitude with topsoil about 1/16th of an inch deep, a growing season of ten-twleve weeks, and those surprize deep frosts in June is quite a challenge. I find the contact with the earth well worth the blisters, sore backs and tires knees. Nothing quite beats the joy of….

The first tomato is a joy to behold. Some of my tomatoes are holdovers from last year. I have an enormous pale green spider taking care of the aphids for me on one vining cherry tomato plant. That’s the only organic way I know to kill the nasty little creatures! Oh, I know someone is going to pipe up with “what about Dawn liquid and water?” Well that might kill your aphids but mine thought it was champagne and developed a taste for it while being the cleanest bugs on the block. If you can raise a tomato up here without the aphids, the slugs, the rodents or frostbite killing it, you can feel a bit of pride! I have four different kinds of tomatoes this year. I have a fantasy where I harvest enough of them to can salsa! In my efforts towards this end I have also planted Hot peppers of different types.
My garden is only four cinderblocks wide by five cinderblocks long. Each section of each cinderblock is filled with soil and has something planted in it. I have Dianthus, Sweet Basil, Curly Leafed Parsley, Primroses, Creeping Thyme, Poppies, Baby’s Breath, Purple Pole Beans, Squash, Pumpkin and Dill planted in them.
More garden
Next year I may add another row of cinderblocks on top so I don’t have to bend over so much and put another two hundred pounds of topsoil in. This winter I am laying some of my neighbors older manure on top of the soil and letting the winter snow leach it in for a great organic fertilizer. The weed block I put in the bottom of this garden when we built it two years ago seems to be working well still. The only weeds I get are the ones that blow in on the wind but there are plenty of those.
This tiny plot of ground adds so much more to my well being than a source of fresh vegetables. The savings everytime I use my fresh herbs instead of dried costly ones from the store is a thrill to me. It is almost as big a thrill to me as the incredible flavor of fresh as opposed to dried herbs.
I doubt my fence keeps anything out and I don’t know if I will win the War of the Rodents this year but it’s worth a try. Many of my bigger efforts are going into pots this year so I can salvage them if the weather turns cold early. Spring and fall are the times my house smells like the greenhouse it’s being used for. I feel like I am being laved in oxygen and breath deeply in the soil-scented air.
I am using every square inch of the area available to me for something. I’ve pulled out the useless stuff over the years and almost everything growing here can be used for more than just something pretty to look at.
Tonight I’m taking some of my sister’s chicken eggs and making an omelet with delicate young herbs. Two or three weeks from now I’ll be having my first leaves of spinach. I’ve already harvested the tiny dandilion leaves when they were young enough to not be bitter, wilted them in bacon grease and had a tasty sallit (as it was often spelled in the diaries of mountain women in the 1800s.)
My everchanging delight of a hobby is not just the six months spend in sprouting, planting, caring, harvesting, storing and eating. The other six months are spent in planning and dreaming and fondly thinking of afternoons like this one spent pottering (what an odd word) in the garden.