6 March 2021: I filled up 90 pots with organic potting mix. I then poured enough water in the black seedling trays so that some of it would seep up to the seeds that now are at the top of the 3.5-inch deep pots.
I sowed tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and chives. Everything except for the chives is best started indoors under grow lights six to eight weeks before the last frost. The chives can be started indoors but will find their way out to the raised beds as soon as the outside soil can be worked. (In other words, any day now.)
Without a doubt, a raspberry is a fruit; and a cabbage is a vegetable. As for a tomato? Well, that’s debatable.
Here’s the skinny. Whether some edible plants are fruits or vegetables all depends on whether you come at things primarily as a gardener or primarily as a cook. Gardeners, by and large, use botanical definitions:
Still, I ended my first season of gardening with a freezer full of veggies and lots of knowledge, mostly the product of learning from gardening mistakes, but also a fair amount from books and teachers.
Several years ago, I attended a lecture about what can be done to help reverse the decline in bee populations, which has been going on for quite some time in the northern hemisphere. The lecture, “Bees: The New Buzz,” was given by MacArthur award-winning entomologist and University of Minnesota professor, Marla Spivak.
While there were many takeaways, the underlying theme was bees need good, clean food.
I have a chronic Anxiety disorder. While it is not always a problem, I frequently obsess about the mistakes of my past and think others pay as much attention to them as my anxious mind does. Also, during difficult times, I can create immense fears of my future, assuming there is no way I can handle what life will throw at me. The emotional, as well as physical, pain of Anxiety can seem overwhelming.
Luckily, there are many tactics an Anxiety-ridden person can use to abbreviate their period of distress. One effective practice is to jostle your mind out of the past or future, focusing, instead, on “the now.” Mind you, this isn’t just “snapping out” of your Anxiety. It is highly intentional and often disciplined work to get your brain to move from swirling around “fight or flight” chemical reactions to either a more neutral or even better place. Some sufferers focus their mind for quite some time on someone or something they are grateful for in order to find relief. Others count how many shades of green they see around them. (No kidding, it can work if you look long and hard enough.) I’ve used both of those tactics successfully. However, the most common thing I do during the summer is to head out to my garden and become fully aware of how my five senses ground me in the present, making the past and future disappear.
I am a huge fan of essayist and modern-day agrarian Wendell Berry. And in one of my favorite essays of his, “The Pleasures of Eating,” he notes that eating is an agricultural act. His advice to city folk who ask what they can do to act on this truth is to “eat responsibly.”
(The following is an actual experience I had in mid-April of last year.)
My gosh, they grow so fast! It seems like just yesterday, my tomato plants popped through the soil. Soon they began talking — to me, anyway. And then this morning, I got the question from one of the eldest, an Orange Icicle Tomato, “Where did I come from?”
Several years ago I travelled to Decorah, Iowa to visit Seed Savers Exchange‘s Heritage Farm for the first time. Before I went, I looked at their calendar of events to find that the annual tomato tasting competition would take place the same weekend. Cool, right? Hmmm, questionable for a guy who hates the taste of nearly every raw tomato. But a little “When in Rome” hit me. I figured, love it or hate it, I needed to participate along with the scores of other people there. It would make for a great story, to say the least. (I’d like to point out that of the 49 tomatoes in the competition — all of which I tasted — I helped pick the winner: the Igleheart Yellow Cherry Tomato.)
Do the places you shop for food carry 49 different tomato varieties? Or how many of the roughly 10,000 – 15,000 varieties that exist in the world?