When my husband and I first moved to our house in downtown Raleigh, N.C., nine years ago, we were fascinated by the empty lot between our 1890s Victorian and the neighbor’s bungalow. “That’s where the victory garden used to be,” my neighbors said, pointing to a slightly shaded quarter of an acre. This garden existed, of course, before the Krispy Kreme was built and the drunks used to sip 40s and eat glazed doughnuts behind our fence.
I’d never thought about the patriotism of gardening, and I didn’t again until we moved to Vermont and inherited two enormous gardens and a small orchard. God, I thought. Those look like a lot of work.
And they are.
But five years later I’m obsessed. I read seed catalogs cover-to-cover, the way I used to look at fashion magazines in college, my hungry gaze raking over the pages: Can this knowledge change my life? When the catalogs show up in the mail stack at the end of January it feels like an omen, a promise that spring will indeed come, that months from now we will sit at the outdoor picnic table with dinner plucked from the backyard: panzanella with crisp cucumbers and sharp red onions, blueberry and arugula salads, sandwiches piled with flame-colored heirloom tomatoes and smoky roasted eggplant.