Commentary: Lessons from my garden

 Resize text         Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

I have to admit, like most Americans I have become enamored with the local food movement. I know exactly where food comes from and my job as an agricultural journalist puts me in contact with farmers almost every day. But the idea of growing my own food with my own two hands was a thrilling idea to me and still is.

With the idea in mind that I was going to grow my own vegetables, and with my husband’s assistance, five large boxes were built to house our garden. The majority of our suburban backyard is cement, so above-ground boxes were our only option.  A nearby composting facility for the city let me fill the boxes with dirt for a fairly cheap rate. Then, vegetable plants were purchased at the local Junior College’s nursery.

After everything was planted, I was so proud of my little garden. In my mind, I was making grand plans of all the things I would can when the crop came in. Every day, I faithfully watered my garden; an automated sprinkler system wasn’t in the budget this year. As I watered, I’d look over the plants to check out their growth to see if I could tell any difference.

But then a funny thing happened: life got in the way. Somewhere along the way, I stopped paying as much attention to my garden. I still watered it, but it lost its novel appeal.

Now that the crop has come in, I’m looking at a whopping eight peppers, six tomatoes and five eggplant. I’ll probably get a few more of each, as there are several green tomatoes on the vine, but not the kind of crop I was fantasizing about in my head just a few short months ago. I don’t even think I have enough to can anything.

My little gardening project makes me think that perhaps the “local” food movement trend is the best thing that could happen to agriculture. How can anyone truly appreciate where their food comes from or the people behind it if they have never tried it themselves? Growing your own food sounds like an easy thing to do, but as I learned it’s not.

I don’t think trying to make something is necessary to appreciate where everything comes from. For example, I don’t need to go work at Apple to find out how my iPod works to appreciate it. As long as it works when I turn it on, that’s all I care about. But, for some reason, food is different. People have romanticized food.

I know many farmers, know where my food comes from, but I have an even bigger appreciation for farmers after my attempt at gardening. I’m sure others are better gardeners than me, but I can only believe that there are millions of people out there who ended up with eight peppers, six tomatoes and five eggplants and are now so much appreciative when they walk into the grocery store.

I’ve already started to think about what I can plant next year to improve my little garden, but trust me I’m not about to quit my day job.



Comments (3) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left

margit f. chiriaco rusche    
chiriaco summit, ca  |  September, 02, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I could not agree more...I also had a similar experience with our above ground garden and tried to create a community gardent in our small hamlet, but at first excitement and then as time progressed , less and less involvement. This summer has not produced much at all, but we are in the hot desert East of Indio and it is a dry climate and unforgiiving some days with heat. But I have not given up and will plant a winter crop as we have been successful with broccoli and cauliflower...and some peppers, italian parsley and dill. Wishing you good luck with your next garden and if all else fails, plant flowers.

margit f. chiriaco rusche    
chiriaco summit, ca  |  September, 02, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I could not agree more...I also had a similar experience with our above ground garden and tried to create a community gardent in our small hamlet, but at first excitement and then as time progressed , less and less involvement. This summer has not produced much at all, but we are in the hot desert East of Indio and it is a dry climate and unforgiiving some days with heat. But I have not given up and will plant a winter crop as we have been successful with broccoli and cauliflower...and some peppers, italian parsley and dill. Wishing you good luck with your next garden and if all else fails, plant flowers.

Amy Kresge    
Loysville, PA  |  September, 03, 2011 at 09:21 AM

I have so longed to hear this message. My standard answer should anyone complain about the way their food is produced is to say, "Go home, grow your food and fiber any way you wish, find out it isn't as easy as you thought, and then we'll talk." I could complain about how widgets are made if I knew the first thing about them. But I don't, so I let someone who knows how they should be made make informed decisions on widget production. Why is food different? I get a little (read a lot!) tired of being told that we do every little thing wrong and are responsible for half the world's ills. And this, from people talking with their mouths full!


Kuhn SR 100 GII SpeedRakes®

The best just got better with the Kuhn SR 100 GII SpeedRakes. Refined styling, higher strength materials and improved options ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Leads to Insight