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Garden Gnome!, originally uploaded by MzMuze.

As a follow-up to my earlier post about food and sustainability, this week became all about a garden.

I’ve been wanting to garden for years and never having an easy enough spring to do it. I was always in grad skool, or pregnant, or having a newborn, or working full-time. But this year, finally, I have a baby who is old enough to sit beside me while I work in the dirt and a three-year-old who wants to garden at least as much as I do. So there’s the time.

Not so much the space, since we’re moving, and that was my “I can’t garden because…” of the year but I just couldn’t let go of the notion so I begged some space from and planted a strawberry patch. More veggies perhaps to follow.

I’ve never gardened before, but it just feels so much like right action right now. Rio, Serena and I visited and saw her beautiful, bountiful container garden. We were invited to plant a few seeds, transplant some lettuce seedlings and water all the pots.

After that we moved on to another friend’s house, and sat with him in his garden talking about the basics of getting started. We learned a lot about soil nutrients, good crops to grow in containers, how to plan a season of growing, how to care for young plants.

Enough to make a list of seeds and supplies and head across the street to the local garden center, where we bought gloves and trowels for each of us, some organic fertilizer and a bunch of strawberry seedlings.

Today, we visited another friend in her garden. Her toddler played with Rio and the two girls helped me dig up strawberry plants from a bed she’s tearing out. She was the first in-ground gardner I’ve had the chance to visit. I sat under a tree in her yard nursing my baby while she dug out a new bed, and we talked a long time about the prizes and perils of backyard gardening.

Then we went back to ‘s and put the plants in the ground. I can’t wait to go back and check on them. Rio is convinced we will have strawberries next time we go there; I told her it may take a little longer. We planted peas and lettuce too, though with less care…we pretty much just threw the seeds at the ground and hoped for the best with those, whereas the strawberries were planted carefully with the right balance of nutrients, and mulched in to protect the fruit from rotting on the ground. We also installed a drip system that I plan to keep a careful eye on. I’m not sure it’s set up correctly yet, but clearly I need one, since I do not actually live next to my garden.

Next week, fencing out the wildlife.

The very best aspect of this project so far has been the opportunity to sit with friends in their gardens and learn about how they grow them. It feels like such a right way to gain knowledge, and has been amazing for my daughter. I’m looking forward to visiting a lot more gardens this summer, and being able to lend more of a helping hand as Serena gets more independent.

The very worst aspect of this project has been my impatience to do it, which has led to some buying of the wrong thing or too many things.

I have the sense that gardening is all about patience and learning the wisdom of “measure twice, cut once” as it were, but I simply could not wait to get my hands dirty. So now I have gloves, a trowel, and a LOT of organic fertilizer. Plus visions of strawberries.