Growing Green on Concrete

O: When my sweet pea plants turn into sweet peas, I'm gonna do a sweet pea dance. 

We love living in Los Angeles, but I would be lying if I said there was nothing I wish I could change.  I wish people drove down our narrow street like it was a residential area, which it is, instead of like it was a highway, which it isn't.  I wish I knew the names of all of my neighbors and we would congregate on the front porch for cocktails and a catch-up on a warm summer evening.  I wish my girls had a garden, a verdant hideaway, where they could chase butterflies, make mud pies, hunt for fairies, and grow sweet peas. 

There are gardens in LA, beautiful public spaces to roam, private back yards of multimillion dollar homes, and, even, community gardens, where you can rent a patch of earth to call your own and get your hands dirty.  

Generally, we, the renters, are left with potted plants, sad window-box herb gardens, and that lush basil that I buy at Trader Joe's every few months that makes my kitchen smell like heaven, until I denude the poor bastard to make pesto.  


Out of my own sheer stubbornness, we do have a garden, a little plot of dirt, a raised bed that is intended to sit on harder-packed earth.  Ours sits on the concrete pad outside our dining room window.  The roots of the plants often creep out from under the forest green plastic, seeking soil, but we forge on.  We have grown kale (attacked and desiccated by cabbage worms), tomatoes (never ripened), pumpkins (this was acknowledged, in advance, to be folly), and cucumbers (of which we harvested 3, making them approximately forty-six dollars each). 

This bull shit is expensive  (the above contains actual bull shit)

This bull shit is expensive

(the above contains actual bull shit)

This season, it is sugar snap peas.  As we scattered the seeds, O was already planning for the harvest, listing the names of dear friends who would share in our bounty. I love, at times, how short her memory can be, how the failures of the past months don't even register in the face of this new and hopeful venture.  The tiny green shoots have been measured daily, their growth tracked by comparison to her tiny index finger.  The first bloom, (see, I can be hopeful too) will be an event, celebrated with leaping and dancing.  

 We have a garden, not the garden I imagined, not the garden I would hope for, but a garden none the less.  

It is pretty good for making mud pies

It is pretty good for making mud pies

Mostly, we just make a mess, but sometimes we make magic.  

When those sugar snap peas are harvested, dear friends, be they five or five hundred, they will be the best sugar snap peas you've ever tasted.  I'll keep you posted.