Angels in the Garden

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[This is a guest-blog from The Guitar Player, who has been mentioned several times in previous entries. -MB]

I have never planted a vegetable garden in my life.

As regular Recipe readers know, Marusya and I often go to the organic farmer’s market in Dufferin Grove park on Thursdays, choosing ingredients for our TGIF meal to be prepared and eaten together the next evening. I think of it as the recovering Catholic’s Shabbat. I can be a terror most anywhere but I can usually be counted upon to be an angel in the kitchen.

Last Saturday, after taking Marusya to the airport for the western Canadian book tour of Comfort Food for Breakups, I stared out at the weed-infested backyard of my new house and wondered how I would ever make a dent in the work it would take to transform it from an overgrown eyesore to the organic garden I had boasted I would create, delivering homegrown produce to the table.

My friend and neighbour Bradford called to say he needed to be in the sunshine, was craving some time in the garden, that his partner and their newborn were napping and the time was right. With me in the doldrums, together we began what felt to me like an exercise in futility.

But over these past two weeks, my private little nightmare has turned into a community effort. Neighbours have been coming by with cuttings and seed packets, a haul of topsoil and a tree to transplant. A car was loaned for a trip to the nursery. And best of all, the two kids in the family who spend their after-school time with me have decided they love gardening, consulting extensively with the staff at the nursery and calling their parents to ask to be picked up late in order to keep digging and watering.

We’ve managed to sow a whole garden and initially my cynicism predicted that it would be the birds and squirrels who would reap the benefits of eating the seeds long before anything ever actually grew. But I am overwhelmed instead by the rows and rows of sprouting shoots that may actually turn into lettuce, carrots, beans, herbs and a few surprises for a hungry girl when she returns home.

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