Grandpa would holler from six rows away, "Got ya' one?"
"Yea'huh," I'd reply, grinning as wide as the half acre plot he had fertilized to perfection on the Roanoke Valley's sprawling west side.
When my grandparents bought their house, they were in the country, and they lived like it. Grandpa kept deer meat in his deepfreeze and strange pets, including two raccoons, a tame skunk, and caged pet bobcat at the back of his lot, but the city grew out to him. By the time I came along, he had ranch houses on both sides and an apartment development behind him. While he never planned it, he'd become an urban gardner.
Twenty nine years later, so did I. I pushed a borrowed shovel into the thin band of grass between my row house and the public sidewalk. The roots were old and reluctant to give. I leaned in, using my foot, and scooped the first square of sod up, over and dropped it, careful not to block the sidewalk.
My plot was only three feet deep and ten feet long, but I packed it full--corn, okra, cucumbers, squash, sunflowers, mint, and five different herbs. As the food began to sprout, it became a neighborhood spectacle. People would tell me how much they liked watching it grow or their garden memories or with one crotchety neighbor, how deeply inappropriate he thought it was to have corn growing in the city.
The buzz was fun and the produce I grew was delicious, but mostly, I was glad to be digging in the dirt again; glad to imagine grandpa yelling across the way, asking if I got one; glad to commender a thin strip of soil and transplant a little piece of my mountain home.
While I've change houses since that first garden, it's time to plant again. Want to help me pick my vegi's?
Select your favorite below, and I'll plant the top two. We can watch their progress together with upcoming City Garden updates.