a apple tree makes me think about cultivation



Oh, how I wish we had an apple tree in our yard like the one in the yard a few blocks over.

Or a lemon tree. Oh, how I miss having a lemon tree!

When we lived in Southern California, in the townhouse that is still the one place I have lived in for the most consecutive years of my life (this house we own now will surpass that five year mark next summer; we only owned our first house for four years before we moved to New Jersey), we bought a meyer lemon tree and managed to keep it alive in the backyard, in its container.

This was in the year or two before we moved, not knowing that our next move would be to Canada.

(You can't bring plants between the USA and Canada.)

I had actually managed to eek out a really neat container garden in that backyard, which was a typical Southern California cement patio enclosed by high fences. Not an inch of dirt. Only cement, which baked hot, hot, hot in the summer sun but was exceptionally pleasant after the sun had set, the cement radiating heat to warm the cooling (semi) desert air.

One time, we were even able to make lemon bars from the lemons our little tree produced. I probably had to supplement the lemons with juice from store-bought ones, but that there were enough lemons that I could conceivably make lemon bars, that amazed me.

I had always said, before that garden, that I had a black thumb.

I still kill house plants left and right, unless they live in the kitchen, where I'll remember to water them. My last plant - a yuca - actually died of overwatering. Sigh. I'll try again, eventually.

But that last year in our townhouse, I grew tomatoes and zucchini and basil and lavender outside. If I remember correctly, the basil died; it was too hot. The lavender thrived. The tomatoes were amazing, fresh from the vine. Yum.

I did not have a black thumb. I could remember to water the plants if I made a schedule. Containers on that patio were easy - the heat made it so I had to water them every day.

And when we moved, after making this townhouse - the one place in the world where I had lived the most consecutive years of my life - a home, with this wee little, thriving container garden, we had to give away all of those containers of plants. It was sad to give them away, these green plants that had helped me turn my life around.

(That was also around the time we got marriedI found flylady and we adopted our dog, Pinter. To say my life changed in those five years we lived in Southern California is a complete understatement.)

The meyer lemon tree went to a friend, who managed to keep it alive for years before passing it on to someone else when she moved. We don't know where it is now.

The herbs and tomatoes went to someone else, I don't even remember who (probably another grad school cohort).

What I learned, cultivating that garden, is that I don't have a black thumb. Or a green thumb. I have the moment that I am in, and the ability to make decisions about what to cultivate.

When I am at spoon's end, it's enough to have one plant growing on the kitchen window sill. Or none. When I have enough spoons, I can cultivate a larger garden. I even had a wild container garden at this house, in the summer of 2012.

Here in New Jersey, the basil thrived, and the lavender died. The tomatoes tasted amazing, fresh from the vine.

(In the summer of 2013, we were going to Thailand for almost a month, so I didn't bother planting a container garden. In 2014, I got bronchitis after we came back from our trip to California: no garden. This summer, we were in Morocco for three weeks. No container garden.)

Right now, I have a medium amount of spoons. I feel up to cultivating a few more plants, but it feels like the season for a full blown container garden has passed already.

And so, I've been thinking about indoor plants again.

The bamboo I've been keeping alive for a few years now on the kitchen window sill has been joined by a basil plant. I'm considering putting in glass shelves over the kitchen sink (like this) so that I can grow some other herbs over the winter. (Ones I'm not allergic to.)

It's time to cultivate more plants. Indoors, for now, since winter will be here soon enough.

Even if we move to another country (extremely unlikely) and I have to give up the plants later. Right now, I feel like it would be better to cultivate and let go than not cultivate at all.

But I probably won't get an apple tree just yet.

Or a lemon tree.

I'll start with basil (and maybe add lavender and mint) over the kitchen window. Next spring I can reconsider what else to add and if I'm up for outside plants.

Yes.