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Go west, young gardener

It’s probably no surprise to any close reader of this blog that this past year has been, well, challenging. I’m a girl who keeps her chin up, who tries really hard to make things — even the unpleasant ones — work out for the best, and who is determined to seize every possible opportunity to celebrate. But this past year had its moments. There was loss, and that ever-lasting winter. I spent more hours than I care to count trudging back and forth through O’Hare.

Spring has arrived, though, and I am most definitely celebrating. First, I’m celebrating two years of blogging – Post #1 went up on the site on May 6, 2006. I have loved every minute of it. I’ve met amazing people, made wonderful friends, and been lifted up by a community of readers and fellow bloggers just when I needed it most.


I’m also celebrating a fairly momentous announcement: In just more than a week, I’m going to pack up my car and take the gardening show on the road. I’m heading West for a job (and, no doubt, a very expensive apartment) in Oakland, California.

I had the unique opportunity to choose where I would land next, with no strings tying me anywhere, and California’s been tugging at the hem of my jeans for a long, long time. I have never felt so certain about a decision in my entire life.

So what does this mean for my little toddler blog? Well, it’s not going anywhere. When I interviewed for my job, someone asked me why I wanted to move to the Bay Area, and I mentioned the blog, and my love for slow food and sustainable agriculture and how the first time I walked into the Berkeley Bowl, I wanted to pull up a cot and move in so I could have 24-7 access to the satsumas. I’m heading to Mecca for the way I love to eat, and I’m going to want to tell you about all my discoveries. The Inadvertent Gardener is rolling on, whether I land somewhere – at first – with a garden or not.

My posts might be a bit sporadic while I make the move, but I’ll be back to a more regular course of business just as soon as I’m on the ground out there. Stick with me, folks. Even though I’m about to drive out of here, I still have some Iowa writing to attend to. There are stories I have not yet told.

I’m writing this entry out on my little back porch while the sun sets, with a glass of wine by my side, listening to the sounds of the yard and looking over the garden I’ve come to love since living here. A cardinal’s up in the black walnut tree, fluffing his feathers. Every now and then, the dangling metal moons of my wind chime ping together as the breeze kicks up. I’m barefoot, and there’s chicken roasting inside, stuffed with thyme I harvested last year and froze for the winter. I’m going to miss this – and all the wonderful friends I’ve made during my time in Iowa – terribly.

But it’s time to move on. California, here I come. I hope you’re ready for a little inadvertent gardening, third-year-style.

45 Comments on “Go west, young gardener”

  1. #1 Heather's Garden
    on May 6th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Congratulations on the anniversary and the move! CA — you lucky dog — I’m so jealous of that growing season. I suspected something was up because no matter how busy you are, I didn’t think it was like you to not start the garden at all. I’m glad it’s good news rather than bad preventing you from getting started. Good luck and I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  2. #2 inadvertentgardener
    on May 6th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Heather, that growing season is going to be amazing! I was out there last weekend, and oh my gosh…the flowers! The fruit! The veggies! I will most definitely be keeping you posted…

  3. #3 hotfessional
    on May 6th, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    It sounds like an absolutely wonderful adventure. The Midwest is a challenge to a gardener, but, the things you’ll be able to do with your new life!

    Congratulations on your Blogiversary, too!

  4. #4 Carol, May Dreams Gardens
    on May 6th, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    All very exciting! Congrats on your 2nd year of The Inadvertent Gardener, and best wishes for a safe move to California. I’ll be following your “tweets” and blog posts as you keep us all updated on your new discoveries ‘out west’.

  5. #5 inadvertentgardener
    on May 6th, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Hotfessional, thanks on all counts! And if your business travels take you out that way, I expect an email. We are overdue for a cocktail or three!

    Carol, thanks so much! I will definitely be posting as I make my way across the country…and absolutely will be Tweeting!

  6. #6 Kalyn
    on May 6th, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Congratulations on two years of blogging, and see you soon!

  7. #7 inadvertentgardener
    on May 6th, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Thanks, Kalyn! Looking forward to seeing you soon, too — I’m excited about my SLC stop!

  8. #8 Michael
    on May 7th, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Genie, I stumbled across your blog. Welcome (almost) to Oakland. We’ll look forward to reading about your gardening adventures in our wonderful and interesting climate (or should I say, our many micro-climates). Cheers.

  9. #9 inadvertentgardener
    on May 7th, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Michael, thanks for the welcome shout-out! I’m so excited to get there, and am looking forward to contending with micro-climates. I mean, really, what’s life without a little micro-climate action?

  10. #10 Alanna
    on May 7th, 2008 at 5:58 am

    All the best, m’dear. I’ll wave driving through Iowa, so glad that proximity gave us the chance to meet what now seems like seasons ago. A fresh start, a fresh garden … nothing inadvertent about that.

  11. #11 inadvertentgardener
    on May 7th, 2008 at 6:06 am

    Alanna, it was seasons ago, which is amazing! I’m so glad it let us meet, too, and I know we’ll be running into each other again — at BlogHer, or somewhere else along the way.

  12. #12 gina
    on May 7th, 2008 at 7:14 am

    that is so exciting! gardening in cali? i can’t wait to read all about it. good luck!

  13. #13 Jenny
    on May 7th, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Congratulations! I was vaguely wondering if something was going on too–and I’m glad it’s something so good. Have a great trip out, and try not to choke at the rent. :)

  14. #14 PrairieRobin
    on May 7th, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Wow, what an awesome opportunity awaits you! As a former “gypsy” who traveled back and forth across the US 5 times, I envy you just a little. You’re going to a beautiful part of the US, and you already know about the awesome food and lifestyle you’ll find there. I loved the time I spent in the Northwest, Seattle, just a wee bit north of where you’ll be. You’ll love it!!

    I’ve enjoyed connecting with someone who made the difficult transition from DC to Iowa. I look forward now to hearing about all of your new adventures.


  15. #15 Sugar Creek Farm
    on May 7th, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Congrats on all counts! Can’t wait to read about your new adventures in life & gardening :)

  16. #16 Libby
    on May 7th, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Congratulations! I’ll look forward to watching your new gardening adventures unfold. Best wishes on your move and whatever else awaits!

  17. #17 inadvertentgardener
    on May 7th, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Gina, thanks so much! I can’t wait to get used to the new gardening timeline out there.

    Jenny, . It’s going to be crazy!

    PrairieRobin, it was great connecting with you here, as well. I do hope our paths cross again!

    Kelli, and I will enjoy continuing to read all about your farm — you’ll be able to keep me connected to Iowa!

    Libby, thanks so much — I appreciate it. :-)

  18. #18 Jeanne
    on May 7th, 2008 at 10:20 am

    All the best Genie on your new adventures in California! Can’t wait to hear about them!

  19. #19 Vero
    on May 7th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Congratulation for the new job and the move. Sure it is a great adventure but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Give us some news as soos as you can!

  20. #20 kate
    on May 7th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Your twitter conversations made me think that you were headed out to California. No snow, no ice – that will be wonderful, Genie. I wish you the best with your move and may life in CA be filled with adventure and beautiful times.

  21. #21 Jean Ann
    on May 7th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I am so jealous! some day I will be in california too…can there be a better place for gardeners?

  22. #22 Zannie
    on May 7th, 2008 at 3:58 pm


    May I recommend you take a look at Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Pierce? I’m not sure if it would be quite as useful for Oakland gardeners as for San Francisco gardeners, but it’s certainly worth a look, if not a purchase, for any gardener in the bay area. The author also writes a column in the Home and Garden section of the Chronicle.

  23. #23 Tom Fiegen
    on May 7th, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Geo and Iowa’s loss.

    Good luck in California!

  24. #24 Nicole
    on May 7th, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Hooray!! This is going to be awesome!

  25. #25 badhuman
    on May 8th, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Good luck in your move! My fiance and I will be relocating this summer but have yet to determine where as it is dependent on where we can find work! We are looking at the Portland area for the greeness and farmer’s markets and growing season. Colorado is nice but we both miss greenery and farmer’s markets that are open more then three months a year.

  26. #26 Smart Tart
    on May 8th, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Congratulations! You’ll love California. You should get in contact with all the Bay Area community gardens and put yourself on a waiting list for a plot ASAP!

  27. #27 Robin at Bumblebee
    on May 8th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Change is always exciting–and a little frightening too. But California is a fabulous place to live. Everyone should live there at some time or another to experience a different lifestyle. (I spent four years there myself.)

    Happy travels. Safe moves. And I’ll be looking for you.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  28. #28 gillie
    on May 8th, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    New site, new garden, new planting opportunities and new adventures. I’m looking forward to hearing about them all. My father lives in CA and whilst I wouldn’t ever want to leave my bit of the northern UK … I do have a teensy bit of gardener envy! I am thinking about the huge long growing season, the variety of fruits and summer vegetables, (do you know how short our asparagus season is LOL?). Hey ho, so long as I can garden vicariously through you I will be happy!! Have fun and enjoy the adventure.

  29. #29 Monica
    on May 9th, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Congratulations on your job and upcoming move!! I’m sure you’re very excited, and a little scared, but I’m sure you’ll have a great adventure. And on a note of envy, I see your garden speaks to you in nice wooden letters… mine only uses magic marker scrawls on paper! (plant communication post)
    ~ Monica

  30. #30 bloglily
    on May 9th, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Genie, What wonderful news! And many congratulations on your anniversary too.

    I’m looking forward to meeting you in person. And if you want a plot, our yard in Berkeley (it’s not a garden, that’s for sure — it’s just planted with stuff too stubborn to die) is all yours.

    xoxo, Lily

  31. #31 inadvertentgardener
    on May 11th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Jeanne, I’m looking forward to not only experiencing those adventures, but sharing them.

    Vero, will do — for sure!

    Kate, it’s going to be pretty awesome — I was quite done with snow. Thanks for the lovely wishes!

    Jean Ann, I definitely don’t think so.

    Zannie, thanks for the suggestion — that sounds like an excellent resource.

    Tom, thanks so much!

    Nicole, it is — and I’m definitely going to have to get down your way to visit!

    Badhuman, I hear great things about Portland — everyone I know who has moved there absolutely loves it.

    Smart Tart, I’m looking into that community gardening thing…I hear the waiting lists are a bear….

    Robin, thanks on all counts — I’m so glad we got to meet each other, even briefly, while we were both in the same state.

    Gillie, I’m really looking forward to that long growing season — it’s going to be so much fun!

    Monica, I’m going to go check out that post — and yes — wooden letters are, um, quite nice in the garden. :-)

    Bloglily, I can’t wait to meet you, too! Thank you so much for the offer of a piece of your yard…I might just take you up on it — and share the bounty!

  32. #32 malisa
    on May 11th, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Congratulations on the two-year mark and the move.

    If I could move anywhere…it would be the Bay Area too. I’ve lived there for a couple short spurts, but there was always something pulling me back south. (Southern California)

    I used to get up there every couple months, but responsibilities (and gas prices) have kept me away more often the past couple years.

    It’s nice to know that you will appreciate the area for all it has to offer!

  33. #33 katie
    on May 13th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Congrats on the two years…
    And how exciting! New job, new digs, new gardens….
    Slow food…. If I lived in the US, that’s where I’d be. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  34. #34 Annie in Austin
    on May 16th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Congratulations on the two years of blogging so far, Genie, and good luck with your move to the whole new world of California. It sounds as if you’ve already got Oakland area gardeners waiting with open arms – Have fun!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  35. #35 A rabbit-y bon voyage « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on May 23rd, 2008 at 12:52 am

    [...] rabbit-y bon voyage Published May 23, 2008 Uncategorized Things I’m learning: Moving? It gets in the way of blogging. I have dozens of stories to tell you, dear readers, and between [...]

  36. #36 inadvertentgardener
    on May 23rd, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Malisa, I’m seriously going to appreciate the area — I have never been so excited about a move in my life.

    Katie, thanks — I will be sure to keep everyone posted!

    Annie, I know — I’m really touched by all the outpouring of support and offers of friendship/help/etc. — it’s so great to be part of this community!

  37. #37 Rebecca
    on May 25th, 2008 at 5:53 am

    When you get to California.. in particular Oakland… don’t be distraught. The bay area has many beautiful garden type places to visit and a nice climate.. it is a city though. However, when it gets to be too much.. head northwards just an hour or two on Hwy 101 into Sonoma County and in particular Mendocino County. The town of Mendocino is great fun and is interwoven with gardens and Fort Bragg has a great botanical gardens that winds down to the ocean cliffs. And of course.. there is always the redwood forests. I have recently moved from there to the U.P. in Michigan. I went the opposite direction that you did! :) I have great tips if you ever want them.
    Good luck to you! Keep gardening!

  38. #38 inadvertentgardener
    on May 27th, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Rebecca, thanks so much for those tips — I will definitely check out Sonoma and Mendocino Counties! I am absolutely far from distraught, though — I have missed being in a city, and so it’s really nice to be back in such an urban environment again.

  39. #39 Enchiladas for the journey « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Jul 20th, 2008 at 10:09 am

    [...] I also roasted that asparagus, and plated up the enchiladas with the Iowa asparagus on one side and sliced avocado, which just happened to have been flown in from California, on the other. Betsy and I ate dinner at the kitchen table gleaned from another friend who passed it along just when I needed it most, as the light faded over my garden in the back. There would be no more cooking in Iowa, but it seemed just the right dinner to end on: one that featured ingredients from both states, that I served to a friend in the kitchen I’d loved since I first walked into it, and that offered nutrition and comfort for the journey. [...]

  40. #40 Photography shouldn’t distract from weeding « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Aug 15th, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    [...] Published August 11, 2008 Family , Other People’s Gardens , Vegetables On my way out to Oakland from Iowa, I made a stop in Grand Junction, Colorado, at my cousin’s house. She and her son Chase had [...]

  41. #41 New month, new challenge – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Oct 1st, 2008 at 11:58 am

    [...] then I moved to Northern California, which is basically Mecca for foodies like me. And then I actually started hanging out with Jen, [...]

  42. #42 When being a California foodie is so very, very right – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Oct 3rd, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    [...] was kidding, but only a little bit. A huge reason why I wanted to move here was for the food, the amazing food, the incredible cooking happening on both sides of the Bay and [...]

  43. #43 Al_Pal
    on Feb 5th, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Neat. I’m so glad you Came West! ;)

  44. #44 inadvertentgardener
    on Feb 5th, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Al_Pal, me too. Most definitely!

  45. #45 Tomatoes, at exactly the right time – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Sep 27th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    [...] got a glass of Templeton Rye on the table next to me. There’s much the same in this scenario as two and a half years ago, and yet, there’s so much that has [...]

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