I’m spending all my time watching World Cup; working (another fun contracting gig in Oakland for a public transportation agency; and a book project. I’m also gardening now.

We got on the waiting list for a community garden plot, and after 3 years, we got the key in late May. Rent is about $35/year. They provide water, and the hoses are sort of communal.

From the postage-stamp sized, heavily shaded patio, we went to an expansive, sunny plot (the size of 3 car parking spaces). It’s so much space, we don’t know what we’re going to plant or fill it up with!

We got the last available plot, which was the weediest, sorriest, most dismal patch ever. It was veritable shag carpet. I spent one morning weeding it by hand and only got 1/8th cleared. Then World Cup started, and I ignored the garden for a while.

A veteran gardener emailed me and volunteered his weedwhacker and rototiller, and time. Manna from heaven! We’re really lucky to have such a guardian angel. We took him and his wife out for dinner in gratitude. I’ve met quite a few fellow gardeners, and they all seem very kind and helpful in sharing advice to us newbies. You really feel the sense of ‘community’ in this community garden.

Into 1/3 of the plot, we’ve plugged in some tomato plants, basil, squash and chilis. There’s two artichoke plants which survived the previous tenants’ neglect, and provided me with 6 artichokes for lunch.

Today, I emptied out a compost layer from the worm bin and fed the black gold to the tomato plants, which seem touch and go in their new home. I would have thought they’d be thrilled with the full blast of heat and sunlight that was lacking on our patio, but we’ll have to wait and see.

In the mid-term, we’ll be making frequent visits to the dump for free compost, and digging it into the soil to mix it up. Weed control will be an issue next spring.

Working the shovel rekindled my acquaintance with long-forgotten muscle groups in my shoulders and back. (But at least I got exercise, which I need, from having given up swimming temporarily for World Cup. It’s ironic, that I’ve become such a couch potato/ beer drinker, watching 22 men each running 6 miles around a little ball twice a day.)

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