Suddenly everyone has become a gardener. Even my daughter, whom I previously thought knew how to grow only molds, announced she’s acquired some seedlings. She’s trying to grow these fragile shoots inside her high-rise apartment, one that is better suited for hosting parties than horticultural pursuits. Having a neglected quarter-acre backyard, perhaps I should be the one who’s contemplating cultivation.
My previous agrarian ventures, thus far, have been confined to the nurturing of drought tolerant native plants such as purple fountain grass, lamb’s ear, and mistletoe. Okay, I didn’t actually introduce the mistletoe. But you get the idea.
I’m thinking that, during tough economic times like these, maybe I shouldn’t let past performance influence future expectations. Possibly it’s time to ignore the claims that I’m “capable of killing a cactus.”
Aside from any demonstrable skills, I can find many reasons not to tackle tomatoes. Sure, I could probably grow something easy—like cucumbers. However, I don’t eat cucumbers. I do love pickles. But then I’d have to solve the critical question of who would make them.
Here’s what really gets me about gardening; people have a tendency to grow whatever suits their soils and not their taste buds. They pay attention to superfluous stuff, such as climate, rather than to what they might actually enjoy consuming. Otherwise, we’d witness more tobacco gardens, backyard vineyards, and mini cocoa tree orchards. Not to mention ILLEGAL crops (which I most assuredly don’t condone).
My point is this: If I’m going to have to water and weed a garden, then it had better be producing something I’ll use—besides another excuse to avoid housework.
Currently, I spend about $4 per week for tomatoes, $4 for lettuce, and another $6 or so for other miscellaneous vegetables. Multiply that by 50 (because I vacation for at least 2 weeks every year) and the result would be barely enough dollar savings to buy the extra refrigerator I’d need to store all the red globes and greens a garden would supply. If I planted a 12-foot by 20-foot patch of produce, I’d need an extra freezer, a roadside vegetable stand, or a lot more friends who cook to handle my harvests. Any added appliances would pull even more electricity than I’m already using. And, frankly, that could spur construction of another power plant!
Furthermore, all the outdoor labor required to maintain a garden would cause me to do something I seldom do now: sweat. Then I’d use more energy to heat the water for additional showers. This, in turn, would lead me to launder more towels, which would cause my dryer to further heat my house in the summertime, and that would trigger my air conditioner to run even harder than it might otherwise.
The additional laundry load also would force me to buy more detergent packaged in plastic petroleum-based containers manufactured out of state, trucked cross-country, and sold to folks like me who drive their cars several miles to acquire it.
So how, I ask, can gardening be “green?”
If I really want to be helpful, healthy, and hospitable, I should simply accept the overages my friends are surely going to be retrieving from their gardens.
From the looks of it, I’d better start clearing some refrigerator space.