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Gardening [publisher's letter]

Tracy Patterson

We had a garden in our backyard when I was growing up, which was certainly nothing like the modern endeavors of today, as outlined in this month’s feature, “Crops in the City—Urban Agriculture Breaks New Ground,” on page 16, but it was our bit of dirt and I remember spending hours digging, weeding and eating the delicious vegetable bounty. That was back in the day when you had to soak crucifers, like broccoli and cauliflower, in salted water to get rid of the worms (which would float to the top, should there be any).

Many years later, my husband and I bought our first little house, and it came with an equally little garden! We decided we should try our hand at gardening because by this time, the vegetables we bought at the grocery store had changed to the point of being tasteless. It was so exciting to have a garden again, and as the “icing on the cake,” the seller had brought in some beautiful topsoil, so there was optimum chance for success in the short growing season where we lived at the time. So, we got to work seeding, which didn’t take long in the postage stamp-sized spot.

Well, I can only say, “Wow, what a crop!” We were overrun with veggies of all kinds—radishes, carrots, potatoes, onions, green beans, peas, among others. It was almost comical how the little square patch appeared to be almost bursting! And around a couple of edges we planted nasturtiums, as I had learned in one of my university courses on companion planting that they are good at repelling certain bugs. An added bonus was that we could top our fresh salads off with a few of these tasty, colorful edible flowers.  

One day I was in the garden gathering some veggies and flowers for our dinner, and I suddenly had a huge bee after me. A little afraid of bugs, I was about to drop everything and sprint to safety, but hesitated for a second—just long enough to realize that it wasn’t the world’s largest bee, but, in fact, a tiny hummingbird! He was right there near my legs “buzzing” around, no doubt trying to accomplish what a bee would have been successful at: running me off and away from his garden.

I’ll never forget how bold that little guy was, and how we had many hummingbirds enjoying the garden that summer. They also loved our 10 hanging pots that sported an array of flowers—but that’s another story.