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June 06, 2003

How Does Our Garden Grow

Being that we live the country life and all, it's only natural that we should have a garden, and by "we," I mean my wife and my father-in-law, since any attempt my me to grow something from the earth is doomed to hideous, depressing failure. My wife and FIL do not have these problems; they plant something in the ground and it grows, joyfully, sprouting and blooming and growing until the two of them come along to yank the literal produce right from them. Talk about alienation from one's work. If plants had political affiliations, they'd all be Marxists.

The garden is pretty large -- larger, in fact, than our entire front yard back when we lived in Virginia, and large enough that there's no way each year that we can possibly eat all the produce that grows in it -- we end up canning enough tomatoes to power Chef Boy-ar-dee for a year and foisting Ball jars of preserves on friends, family and random passersby. Come along to the house in September or October and when you get back home all your neighbors will think you stopped off at a farmer's market. That's a hint.

In this year's garden we have potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, radishes, and several other plants that I am assured are edible at some point. In terms of long term investments, we have asparagus, growing in that box in the front of the picture, and blackberrys, whose trailing vines are supported by wires hung from those crosses (so, no, we're not crucifying our produce). Neither the asparagus nor the blackberry plants will produce anything appreciable in the first year, so by planting these things, we've signaled our intention to stick around, I suppose (our 30-year-mortgage also suggests such, just not as verdantly).

Our house is situated on former farmland, and we're surrounded by farms as well, so not entirely surprisingly, the garden grows like gangbusters. Even someone with a black thumb like myself can understand why New England farmers crawled over each other to abandon their rockstrewn plots of land and head west to the Ohio territory as soon as it opened up: There's rich soil, hardly any rocks, and humid but largely temperate weather. If you can't grow something in Ohio, it's likely you can't grow it at all (except maybe bananas and palm trees), or, like me, everything green thing you touch dies screaming.

I don't mind. I'm not the gardening type anyway. I'll just enjoy some of the couple thousand tomatoes we'll undoubtedly have by the end of the summer. My contribution to the gardening process is consumption. And that, I do well.

Posted by john at June 6, 2003 11:21 AM

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Comments

ian | June 6, 2003 12:09 PM

maybe you should start a little side business. "this tomato was grown by John Scalzi himself! reserve yous today!" =P i'm sure you could earn enough extra for breakfast at ihop or something.

_Jon | June 6, 2003 12:12 PM

Back when I lived in the 'burbs with my 'rents, my dad spent money on the "lot next door". Yeah, an entire lot - where people later built a house. Who do you think cut that lawn for a few years? Yeah, I know about your joy of cutting lawn. And then the 'rents decided that a garden was a GREAT idea. Well, guess what high school aged child had to dig, turn-over, weed, and harvest that (expletive) "garden"! Mind you, I'm good at (and have always been) computers. Objects like "shovel", "hoe", and "rake" were not friendly to my nerd-like frame at the time. It sucked. It sucked bad. I have to go talk to my therapist now.....

That's a good looking garden. What's the addy, and I'll see you on the 1st weekend in October.... :)

Brian | June 6, 2003 12:52 PM

Asparagus my friend is an alien weed, not a long term investment. Keep a watchful eye or he may call on his cousin (kudzu) and then the Scalzi compound will be transformed into the Mothership Connection and George Clinton will be "doing it to you in your earhole!"

Round Up
or in your case touch it

QUICK

Brian

Sharon | June 6, 2003 12:55 PM

The same is true for blackberries! Here in WA a long term investment is chopping them down... Watch out or they'll take over your entire property (we have 6 acres of them!). :)

Dennis | June 6, 2003 01:48 PM

Did anyone else think that box with the cross at the end was a gravesite? Have any of John's neighbors mysteriously disappeared lately?

:>

Sue | June 6, 2003 03:18 PM

Sitting here in my apartment, with no plants to tend, 6 acres of blackberries sounds nice. In practice, I'm sure it's not, though. I bet the neighborhood birds like it, though.

When we left California, we left behind my rose garden, which I miss more than I thought I would. Mine was strictly a flower garden, though. Veggies have never been my thing, though now that I have discovered how yummy sliced roma tomaotes with mozarrella and pesto on top of them are, I'm slowly changing my mind.

Tripp | June 6, 2003 03:22 PM

Regarding the unmarked graves, I'm thinking maybe John picked up a midnight business for some of his friends out east. :)

But seriously, John, I don't get the 'brown thumb' thing. I just can't imagine that you could kill zuchini. You practically have to jump back after planting it or it will poke your eye out!

John Scalzi | June 6, 2003 03:58 PM

Yeah, I don't understand it either. Just about the only things that grow under my tuteledge are dandilions, and they are sort of the cockroaches of the plant world -- it would be surprising if they *didn't* grow.

Tripp | June 6, 2003 04:24 PM

If you could guarantee that dandelions did NOT grow around you, you could make a fortune!

One of my simple pleasures is mixing up some fairly strong dandelion killer, putting it in a spray bottle, and then surgically applying it to every offensive yellow flower. I'm a pretty 'green' guy about the environment, and I have a dog, so I don't like to blanket spray that stuff, but I LOVE delivering the coup de gras one flower at a time!

Bwahahaha!

MAB | June 6, 2003 05:03 PM

You could sell them through CafePress, all with "I Hate Your Parsnips" logos. ;)

Bill Peschel | June 6, 2003 06:25 PM

Growing up in Ohio (Warren area), I second the notion about the fertile soil. My mother grew the staples of '60s gardening: corn, peppers and tomatoes, and had a bountiful crop without much trouble on her part. Of course, you'd have to work hard not to get anything out of those crops.

Down south, I had an asparagus patch that didn't do so well. They're heavy feeders to start with, and my interest in gardening coincided with living in an area that a) regularly broke 80 by 9 a.m. and hovered in the 90s for the rest of the day and b) was visited regularly by mosquitoes.

Now I'm up in Pennsylvania and the gardening bug is reasserting itself. Moderate temps and few mosquitoes (I can handle the clouds of mayflies). Two hundred years ago, the farmers of this area moved to South Carolina (and took their names along: York, Chester and Lancaster counties are found in both places). They must have been insane.

Jim | June 7, 2003 07:27 PM

It's wonderful to be able to pick fresh asparagus from your garden! You'll have a very small crop next year, but just wait until the year after that. Lots of beautiful asparagus.

Blackberries are also wonderful but Sharon is right about them -- they will try to conquer your entire property.