I grew up in rural Ohio and for as long as I could remember, my family had a garden. Sometimes, it was in the corner of our backyard. Other years, my father would have a plot given to him by the elderly lady who lived across the street from us. He would mow her yard, do weekend handy, deal with yard pests work in exchange for it. (side note: I once saw my father stick a gun down a gopher/mole hole and also blow the head off a pesky rodent who was nibbling at our plants). We would grow tomatoes, beets, peas, green beans, potatoes and many other things. My mother would often can the produce so we would have it during the winter (either her green beans or beeat were so good that they took first prize at the county fair...heck, it may have been both of them actually. I can't remember exactly). I would also always get to choose a plant or two to grow in this garden we would have...sometimes I'd go with flowers, but often times, i would grow pumpkins or watermelons, so i could later have a fruit stand in my grandparents' front yard (since they lived around the corner on a much busier street) and earn some bonus money in addition to my allowance.
Flash forward to me living in Los Angeles. I'm getting more into food. I'd love to have a little herb garden or something. It's a concrete jungle. Sure, there are community gardens, but they are nowhere near where I live & there are waiting lists to get just a smidge of a plot. My father was dying & my boyfriend was looking to give me anything, something that could give me a lasting piece of my father. I was sinking into a deep depression & having the beginning signs of the anxiety problems that I still struggle with years later. He bought me a garden box for my birthday & got permission from the landlord to put it outside our building in some open space. I didn't touch the box for almost 8 months....too depressed, too sick, other excuses. Then in April of 2012, it came to life....I planted some herbs in it, but I thought....let's plant a couple other things too. Brendan had access to all these wooden wine boxes at his work, so he brought some home. we made planters out of them and I planted a pepper plant in one. it was like having a memory of my father with me.
Then winter (by LA standards) came....it actually got cold enough to frost and the cold weather destroyed almost everything...esxcept the pepper plant that was hanging by a single branch.
In spring 2013, Brendan came up with a genius idea: a garden box stand. Something that could not only house the garden box that he bought me, but also allow me to have additional plants in wooden wine boxes as well. He sketched it out meticulously like an engineer or architect, bought all the lumber and built it by hand. My job? to weather seal & paint it.....any color I wanted. That was task by itself....so many colors to choose from. I went with a lavender purple....something girly that would compliment all the green that was going to appear.
Now I do not have the greenest of thumbs.....my cilantro always dies, my basil always struggles. It also took a hit when we went on vacation and the girl I asked to water everything forgot a day or two when it just so happened to be a heat wave in L.A., but it seems to have hit its stride. My cilantro? needs to be replanted. it died (of course it did). My basil? struggling...i'm about to replace it for like the 4th time. My flowers are good...in fact, they are jumping to other boxes...those rascals. we have tomatoes, garlic, peppers, oregano, mint, rosemary, the peas that I just planted are starting to come up (hope I have better luck than the last time when they all died). And that first pepper plant? Still chugging along.
The first pepper plant...still chugging along...fighting the good fight
The garden box that started it all:
In the foreground, the newbies of the garden...the peas
garlic, herbs, tomatoes and more: