Sunday, June 10, 2007

The garden plot

[The "Mayor," overseeing the manor]

[Mary doing some planting the old-fashioned way]

[Man's best friend, at least when it comes to backs]

[Garden plot with tomatoes, squash, carrots, kale, spinach and green beans]

[The herb garden, for what ails 'ya]

Mary and I (and of course, “the Mayor,” aka, Bernie) braved Saturday’s heavy morning mist and did a yeoman’s worth of work out in the yard and garden. Despite a forecast for rain on Saturday, we decided that the absence of rain, early in the morning presented a window of opportunity that could best be filled with the tasks at hand—mowing the lawn, prepping the soil for the herb garden and then later, sans the predicted deluge, picking up the rototiller at our niece’s house and going to town on our little plot, where we usually have our summer vegetable garden.

We had our first garden, back in the summer of 2001. Tired of talking about having a garden and wanting to grow something on our own, without relying on the supermarket, we prepped a small 12 X 20 foot area, erected a simple mesh fence to keep the critters out and our foray into growing our own food began.

Because we composted our own kitchen scraps and had a pretty good pile of organic material, filled with nutrients, we opted to go fertilizer-free with our garden. We’ve maintained the garden free of chemicals and fertilizers ever since.

While our garden is small and doesn’t yield enough to sustain our needs, it is a great supplement to supermarket produce. In fact, not only does it provide us with some wonderfully delicious and healthy vegetables, by supplementing our own yield with various farmer’s markets and roadside produce stands, the summer months provide us with a cornucopia of locally-grown foods. Additionally, I feel that gardening is symbolic and helps us reconnect with the earth, which I think is vitally important to our physical, psychic and spirtitual health. On a practical level, knowing how to grow one’s own food may become increasingly important in light of global events and the predictions of some that we cannot sustain our current way of life much longer, as society is currently configured.

There is something that happens when you are out digging in the dirt, smelling the rich aroma of the soil, getting it caked on your hands and under your fingernails. It helps you to recognize the labor required, or, in lieu of labor, the energy, almost always in the form of oil that it requires to produce our foods and truck them to markets, where we can buy them. Even produce and other items obtained at the local organic market requires large outlays of energy to get them to us.

Particularly pertinent to a discussion of growing your own food, are the recent revelations that pet food and now, human food, originating in China, have been contaminated, exposing the vulnerability of our food supply. In addition to contaminated food, is the question of availability of food, in light of corn being turned into ethanol to run our automobiles, which is having the affect of causing many other food products to escalate in price.

While a small garden plot won’t save the planet, it at least is a positive step in the right direction. Knowing where your food comes from is the first step in being more conscious about the issues that surround the politics of food, food security and it lessens our dependency, even in the smallest of ways, upon corporations for our survival.


Margaret Evans Porter said...

Lovely garden.
Happy, busy gardener.
Gorgeous dog.

Jim said...

Margaret--It's amazing how much joy a little area of tilled earth can bring.

"The Mayor," (aka, Bernie) is 13 and now deaf. As is the nature of the Sheltie, he's adapted and I swear, he now is able to read lips.