Monday, January 15, 2007

Green fingers; cold feet

Look, I know I said I wanted to be Barbara from The Good Life (or did someone say I reminded them of her - I can't remember) but you may have noticed that one thing I've been trying to avoid dealing with is the 'grow your own' food bit.

It's not that I don't love the idea of it - I absolutely do, and I grew up with Dad coaxing raspberries, carrots, shallots, broccoli, beans and apples from our suburban backyard (I just wasn't paying attention) - but how the hell do you do it?

My one experience of gardening up here was enough to put me off for life. It was a day in late spring; I must have been four or five months pregnant. I decided I'd weed a couple of big beds then head to Home Depot for some seeds to plant pretty flowers and vegetables - easy.

A couple of hours later I'd cleared at most a square foot and all I had to show for it was a trug of roots, a sore back and a sunburned neck.

Eventually I did clear the two beds I'd meant to (from one I pulled a mirror, several screwdrivers, 2 plates, multiple beer bottles and a Kinder egg toy) but during the week it rained, and by the time we came back up they'd been completely overgrown again. An English country garden our three quarters of an acre of vigorous PA wilderness is not (did I mention we also have a couple of gopher and chipmunk clans living in our garden walls and under the barn and deer patrolling the lawn?).

However, today it became increasingly clear that if I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and be in any way self-sustaining I'm going to have to at least give it a try.

First, there was the promo video from Garden Girl, a perky lady from East Harlem who will soon be showing us how to make ourselves self-sustaining from the confines of your average urban backyard. Since I have a whole garden, she rather puts me to shame with her portable rabbit hutches (to manure the putative vegetable patches, natch). Check her out here:

Then we went to visit a neighbour, Grady, who promised to introduce us to his neighbour who runs the local nature conservancy project and grows all her own fruit, veg and eggs (if you know what I mean). She's 80. And my excuse is?...

One of the lessons I'm learning from motherhood is that, once you get going, things are rarely as bad as you think they're going to be (my MIL told me this last week vis a vis getting Dot into a cot and she was right - she's put herself to sleep in there 3 nights running now, touch wood), so it's best to just get on with them. So after I've been to Pecks tomorrow I guess I'd better start trying to figure out where to start on the vegetable patch. Martha Stewart Living, perhaps?



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