Thursday, March 22, 2007

Organic longing

I can't grow vegetables. I do OK with flowers. But somehow I just can't get plants to produce food for me, at least not in any useful quantity. (I'm great at scavenging: wild blackberries, peaches from the trees that were already growing here when we bought the place, mangos, citrus and avocados at our old South Miami house; I did manage to grow a wonderful key lime tree from seed and reap the harvest several years before leaving...)
Here, my excuse is the chiggers that keep me out of the lower field in hot weather, where there's lovely creekside loam and I've had two years of a fairly useless small garden; and the voles that eat the roots of anything I plant in the raised beds here on the hillside. I do get nice herbs, though. In Florida, wonderful things grew wild after Hurricane Andrew when the tree canopy was opened to the sun: volunteer tomatoes, delicious papayas; but I never got any vegetables I planted to do much. My earlier gardening history was similar.

So reading Joel Achenbach's recent column about his parents and their attempts at living off an organic garden really struck a chord with me. It struck a chord with lots of readers: over 400 comments already. The Florida soil didn't do much for them, either, but they had what sounds like a wonderful life, living off the land as much as possible. Joel, in Dirt Rich:
So, as spring arrives, I'll be in a fluorescent landscape, sitting at my desk near the photocopier, making a living with a keyboard. The windows are so far away, the view so attenuated, that I can barely tell whether it's night or day, and to find out whether it's raining, I have to check the Internet.
But down South, my mom and stepdad are still plant people, tooling around in a pickup. At the end of every day, they sit under the grape arbor, pop open a beer and admire their Edenic surroundings. Spring will be full throttle by now. The azaleas and dogwoods will be glorious. My parents know that to save the world, you first have to appreciate it.

No azaleas or dogwoods here yet, but the birds are singing and I know what the weather is. And I'll be seeing what I can grow again this year. Thanks for the reminder, Joel.


Post a Comment

<< Home