Silicon Valley transplants

We seem to lead a nomadic life, pulling up roots every couple of years to transplant them elsewhere. We began as a couple with our first house in Houston, where I would hover over new azaleas with a water hose every afternoon and train rambling roses along a picket fence. We then moved to Tiburon, California, to discover the coastal bliss of the forevergreen, giddy with the explosion of dramatic ornamental varieties of everything. When we moved to Madison, Connecticut, we hauled three shelves of container plants from California to a trailer park on the beach, where most everything continued to grow - as far as I knew, because most of it slowly disappeared to theft!

A year later we brought the remnants to Lancaster, Texas, and took a backhoe to kaliche, growing a gimongous vegetable patch on an old farm. Then to Austin, where we focused on raising chickens, which reinforced lessons simultaneously taught by the deer: rarely should animals have free reign over the vegetables (duh!).

Finally, here in sunny Saratoga, California, we're turning our cheeks to the gophers, ignoring their subterranean network to grow strawberries and heirloom tomatoes in huge pots, fenced in from the deer for good measure.

Gardening here isn't an annual ritual, marked by an all-or-nothing planting spree; it is a marathon. I can visit the nursery in December and set an annual in the ground in January, in between weepy rainspells. In April, the rain ceases and the sun beams intense during the day, the air cold at night, and I can set a trowel in the ground and dig up a few worms to hand to my son. It is time to plant seeds, in earnest.

Summertime brings hot blasting winds upon the garden, but you can still set out a transplant in the shade, to flower and fruit in the fall. And fall may not be showy, but the produce keeps coming, armful after armful. Ideally, on any given parcel of land here, there is something always blooming, always keeping a few bees, always luring another bird or insect...

...but a few furry party crashers always pervade:

This month, we have created a space for the kids to plant new tomato varieties: Paul Robeson, Mamotoro, Mr. Stripey, Striped German and Ace. There are leeks, yellow chard, butter lettuce, blue kale and scallions growing in containers, too.

We're starting an assortment of herbs from seed: coriander, different basil varieties, parsley, thyme. Strawberries are setting fruit again, the grapefruit tree has dropped most of its yellow orbs and the bees are now hovering over its heady blooms. Nasturtium, alyssum, even a few tomatoes reseeded and new shoots are popping up throughout the garden. A pumpkin resurrected by thirty-odd sprouts at the base of the compost heap.

I still have a boxful of seeds to plant and the garden tools remain outside, poised for another day of work tomorrow. In fact, here, unlike any other place we've lived and gardened, the shovels and spades never see the darkness of the shed.