Friday, July 24, 2009

the respect I owe the farmers

This is the first year ever that I have tried to grow plants outside. At my age I should have attempted it by now. I decided that I wanted to can some salsa. Being college-educated, my first step was to consult with experts and read. Tomatoes and peppers, how hard can that be? And, of course, now that I am some kind of garden officianado having read about plants online, I will throw in some sugar snap peas, just because they are the best veggie ever.

So, my best girl friend and my husband are my consulting team. I hunted the web, planned the calendar, and started growing seeds. Disaster. Seeds indoors suck. Start over. I bought little bitty plants and planted the pea seeds outdoors. I figured 13 pea plants would be 13 woks of food. Wrong. 13 pea plants yielded one sandwich-sized ziploc bag of peas. Disappointing. Apparently for 13 woks of peas, I am going to have to plant about 400 plants. My neighbors might complain with the entire back yard rototilled for 2 months of pea plants. I think that would require a zoning board, perhaps a permit, not sure. I am pretty sure that the city would frown on an agricultural area within a yard in the inner city. I could try to persuade them that snap peas are so amazing that they are worth the variance, but I doubt that would fly.

Now I have determined that this is tons more work than going to the grocery. Thank you Mr Farmer. I have taken you for granted for many many years. I have been forced to watch the weather forecast. I have to monitor rainfall and tie up tomatoes. I had to put up a little fence to keep the oppossum from nibbling. I made a trip to get "hoops". I have had to restake plants, too. I don't really know what I am doing. So, now I have 3 peppers on 4 plants. And I have about a dozen jalapenos on one plant. But there are only green tomatoes. Really hot salsa with no tomatoes. Now what? I think I am going to eat peppers while they are still good, and then when the tomatoes are ready, I am back to the grocery to get expertly-grown peppers. Now the dilemma is... can I claim that the salsa is homegrown? That label could have some really small legal print that talks about salsa, homegrown, sort of.... thanks Mr Farmer for filling in the gaps!

Those of you with a political and philosophical bent that we should all grow our own food and have "zero impact" on the planet, you need to rethink. I have made 85 trips to Lowes. I have inefficiently watered. I am certain that I had a planetary impact just to get that ziploc bag of peas. I know the snap peas are worth it, but perhaps you should rethink your position. There is a reason why we let experts do their expert thing. There is a reason why last year I drove to the store, bought all my veggies, and made salsa in an afternoon. Pass the chips...

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