I have been meaning to share this post with you all summer! As it’s still 100 degrees, I’m still squeaking it in under the wire. Back in May I drove by a wonderful little hippie garden that I’ve driven by possibly hundreds of thousands of times in my life. But this day was different: two old, rickety tables were set up, filled with plants, and a sign that read, “Vegetables, Herbs, Succulents.” I was on my way to drop Isobel off at Ama’s and make a mental note to stop on the return trip.
It was clear they were selling off the overflow of an impressive garden. The land was a little patch of country that our town had slowly grown around. A small, older home sat to one side of an expansive lot that was mostly dirt, desert scrub, and the odd small tree. Except for the garden, which grew near the house and threatened to overtake it. Fortunately I keep my car flush with change in case I see a yard sale that I must visit, or require an emergency ice cream cone. I chose a chive plant, a potted stevia, and six small aloe. Elias slept in the car and I pulled out my big camera and started shooting. This caught the attention of the older hippie man who lived inside the house.
As is the case with most old hippies in our area, he was super friendly, and more than eager to talk about the plants in the garden. He didn’t have the green thumb, he said, it was really his wife’s garden. But he told me about what he did with the plants and expounded at length about his theories on life, the universe, and everything. I asked if I could shoot some photos of the garden and he excitedly obliged. The baby had woken up at this point so I loaded him into the ergo and tromped around the plants with camera in tow.
As I said, the man was incredibly nice and reminded me of all the other natural-living hippie folk I’ve known and loved in my lifetime. He had a friendly smile on his tanned, lined face, and his head was covered in wispy clouds of white hair. When I asked him about his compost bins–two fences staked together in a circle–he told me it was a product of his rabbits and chickens and the refuse from his farm. Then he said the most profound thing about gardening I have ever heard: “People think farming is about cultivating crops, when it’s not–it’s about about cultivating the soil.” Crops come from the soil; are nurtured it, fed by it, and through their alchemy they exchange sunlight, water, and the virtue in the earth for food.
The earth that leaked out of the bottom of the compost bin was black and looked like coffee grounds. It was soil. It was perfect.
The garden was in a state of transition in May. Winter’s crops were nearly finished and summer planting was around the corner. They were trying to sell the property so they could move deep into the country. Selling some of their plants was part of that process.
It wasn’t a neat and tidy garden. But that was part of its charm.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the winter garden were the rows and rows of onions and garlic. He could have opened up a farm stand with them alone.
In the summer, the trellis area is so thick with tomatoes you can hardly see the wooden structure.
At this point the garden was considered “leftovers.”
He let me taste these bean-looking pods. They were actually part of the kale plant! This one was never harvested and it went to seed.
Bell peppers had already begun to grow in their cages.
I had wondered about this garden in the countless times I’ve driven by it. It’s still there if any locals want to pick up some plants for cheap. If an old hippie comes out to chat, you’ll be entertained, too.