By Pallas Hupé

Our Raised Garden BedI had the luxury of enjoying a few extra minutes after a doctor’s appointment today in town. What to do, what to do? I considered stopping to get a coffee, an indulgence I savor. I also thought of zipping by a store to shop for some clothes – something I don’t allow myself to enjoy as often as soy lattes. Then, I realized, I had just enough time to go to my local hardware store and buy a few more plants for my new raised garden bed. That last option was hands-down my first choice and I cannot describe the thrill I had driving back home, imagining where I’d position them…despite the heat, I ended up planting them immediately!

Now, I haven’t ever tried to grow my own food before and frankly probably wouldn’t be pegged as someone overly interested in getting down and dirty. But my roots run deep. One of my best childhood memories is of my grandparent’s backyard, which my grandfather tilled and turned into one giant garden. Literally – you’d step from the screened back porch and into the sandy soil of Titusville, Florida and come face to face with a colorful array of delectables. The ultimate “pick your own” experience! To this day, I can still taste his fresh salads. Somewhere, he’d found a vegetable grinder that turned carrots into curly-cues that delighted my eyes as much as my tastebuds.

My grandfather wasn’t very warm and fuzzy, but he poured his heart into his garden and lovingly shared his crops with his family. And for some reason, I’ve been feeling a strong pull to follow in his footsteps. Maybe it’s the California sunshine? Or my kids growing older, needing my constant care and attention just a little less than when they were younger? That said, part of what I’ve wanted is for them to be a part of this grand gardening experiment.

Luckily, it’s pretty trendy these days to try your hand at growing your own fruits and veggies. So, there are lots of supplies available and online guidance. Over the past few weeks, I’ve shopped for the garden bed basics, including several trips to hardware stores to get everything from seeds to redwood. My boys and I cleared a spot in our yard, and spent several hours one recent afternoon shoveling 32 cubic yards of compost and soil into our rectangular creation. It’s not perfect, but it should get the job done. My husband joined in too – setting up small 360 degree sprinklers that tap into our main sprinkler system to keep our tender little plants well watered. And after today, we are all closely watching our peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin grow! I can’t wait to see how it goes…and promise to share the experience with you.