This summer, I planted my first vegetable garden.
I have ten raised beds of vegetables and herbs on my little half-acre homestead, all green, lush, and thriving. Out of all the vegetables we planted, only one failed to grow properly: the fennel. Luckily we only had two bulbs; I might have cried if we’d planted an entire bed, only to have all of them fail. Their stems stood tall and their fronds grew out of control — incredibly bushy — but their bulbs never enlarged, never grew into the things that I recognize from the grocery store.
But I realized that’s okay. This season was the first time I’d planted any vegetable in my entire life, and for nearly all of them to flourish? That’s amazing. I thank the continuously sunny weather here in West Sonoma County, the water, the soil. Oh, and the magic fungi, Mykos mycorrhizae, which I believe is the secret to our bounty.
People see the garden and assume I have a green thumb. They think I’m a gardener, a farmer. I’ve kept a few succulents, a basil plant, and a pot of mint in my life. That’s it. So I’m not really sure where this green thumb came from, or perhaps I had it all along, and I just never had the opportunity — nor the land — to exercise it.
It’s a neat feeling: to be successful at something new. Routine, perhaps apathy, can take over me for long periods of time, and I suppose that’s the case for many people. And I very much welcome the hobbies I’ve taken on the past few years that do not require a laptop — gardening, cooking, taiko drumming, exercising. It has led to a shift away from blogging and writing, which in some ways is unfortunate, but it has opened up new opportunities to learn and find satisfaction. Because while my job requires me to be online, there’s a hard line there — if I’m not working, I don’t want to be in front of a computer at all.
This Monday, October 2, marks the beginning of my sabbatical — a three-month period of paid time off from work at Automattic. It’s an incredibly generous perk we receive at our five-year anniversary — a milestone I can’t believe I’ve reached. Before this job, I was a freelance writer and editor since I’d graduated from college, mixing editorial contracts with part-time work as an magazine editorial assistant, or teaching assistant, or marketing proofreader. I always wanted options, I dabbled in lots of things, I liked the variety in my schedule, and I didn’t want to commit. I also needed to be able to take off and travel for long periods of time. That was my priority. So it’s weird to say I’ve been with the same company for five years.
I have a list of things I plan to do, or would like to do, during these three months. This period of time is truly a dream for my former self, who would have already booked a string of flights. Interestingly, most of the items on my sabbatical to do list do not include hopping on a plane. I’ll head to New York soon on a short trip to see friends and also hope to explore more of California, but I’m even more excited to have uninterrupted time in my garden.
I’ve certainly changed.
We threw our first harvest party at our home last weekend, which was a success, and some of the vegetables — the zucchinis, squash, broccolini, French baby bush beans, mesclun and little gem lettuce — are on their way out. Here are some photos of what our August and September looked like. I was happy not to buy produce at the grocery store at all, and even happier to deliver baskets of goodies to neighbors and family members.
I recently went to the nursery to scout the next rotation. Looking forward to planting more!
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