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Our Return to the Community Garden isn’t the Small Step I Planned

When I decided to return to the community garden, it was supposed to be a small endeavor. But the garden had other ideas.

A raised garden bed is shown with six tomato plants and six basil plants planted in alternating rows.

The story goes something like this: In 2023, I missed the deadline to reserve the four Community Garden garden beds my kids and I have been tending for years. It was a hectic, rough time — Will was in his senior year and speeding toward college decisions. I was in my second year of my master’s program and trying to finish both a thesis and a massive portfolio. And on top of all that, a close family member had a devastating medical event (they survived, but it had long term consequences). So I didn’t sign up and I didn’t try to once I realized the deadline had passed.

That’s how 2023 became the year we grew absolutely nothing. Even the single tomato plant I purchased never got planted.

As 2024 approached, my son wanted to build and plant raised garden beds in our own yard. But it’s too shady and we don’t have the area prepped for that yet anyway. I decided to rent a single garden bed at the community garden, and went online to pay for it.

But the local community garden had other ideas. I received an email not long after saying that they found four beds together for us nearby our old beds and had reserved them, sending along an invoice to complete the transaction.

I laughed when I read the email. It was so kind but I had really only wanted one box.

My kids urged me to politely decline. Friends roared at the story. And then I visited the boxes, just to see.

Reader, I paid the fee.

Growing our own food is something I have done for most of my children’s lives. From our backyard in Connecticut to our first Maine porch garden to the community garden, we’ve tended tomatoes and cucumbers, attempted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and been super bummed when thieves stole our cabbages. This is something I love to do.

So that’s how we ended up going from zero to four boxes this season. C’est la vie, right?

A raised garden bed is shown with dirt and a trellis installed.

Two boxes are now planted. One is ready to be planted and the last one needs a bit more work, but should be done today.

When I returned to the garden, I realized how much I love the work of planting, tending and harvesting. And once my son went there with me, he too was sucked back in. My daughter is the hold out, but I am hoping a trip over will make her remember the fun we’ve had working the soil together.

Here’s what we are growing this season:

  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Flat beans
  • Tomatoes (5 varieties)
  • Basil
  • Shishito peppers
  • Bell peppers
  • A smoky/spicy pepper variety
  • Slicing cucumbers
  • Pickling cucumbers
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Kale
The Orono Farmers Market is pictured on May 25, 2024. There is a row of white tents and box trucks and people milling about.

We’ll see how it all turns out. I grow a lot from seed, but didn’t order new seeds for the season. I tested some old ones and they were still viable, so we are using those for many of these things. The tomatoes, basil, peppers and cucumbers are all being grown from starters that we purchased at a local farm and at the Orono Farmers Market.

So, what about you? Are you growing things this season?