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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Have You Started Your Recession Garden Yet?

Given the current state of the economy it might be a good idea for people to start growing their own food and becoming more self-sufficient. There is a movement currently afoot of forward-thinking Americans who are planting vegetable gardens in their yards in order to buffer the impact of the failing economy. Of course many people have been growing their own veggies for years but the rest of us needed a crisis to motivate us to become city farmers. We can't all be visionaries....But we CAN all jump on a good bandwagon when we see it.

During the world wars in the early part of the 20th century the Roosevelts urged Americans to plant "Victory Gardens" to help deal with food shortages brought on by the wars and the depression. The Obamas have carved an L shaped vegetable garden out of the White House lawn to grow their own quite extensive vegetable garden. Some people are calling these new gardens "Recession Gardens." I don't like that name. It sounds so negative. We need a positive term like Victory, but as a lifelong anti-war activist I could never cheer for victory in anybody's war.....alas.

So what do we call these gardens? Hope gardens? Change gardens? My Teaching Assistant (Harlan Wallner) thinks we should call them "Transition Gardens."  A little more positive but...transition to what? Transistions aren't always good. Remember your transition through puberty? No cake walk.
Unity gardens? How about something related to all these green moves? Green garden is redundant. So is eco-friendly. That would be like calling a tree green or a class educational. Hmmm....Progress gardens? Prophecy gardens (in ref to all the prophecies that foretell earth changes and the need for us to radically change our way of life in preparation) Preparation gardens? Readiness gardens?

Or do we need something that is just soft and cuddly and happy regardless of its relevance to any specific looming threat the garden may be designed to prevent, or mitigate?

Rainbow gardens? Bliss gardens? Horizon gardens? Autonomy gardens? Rebound gardens? Oops there I go referring to the cataclysm again....

Somebody needs to come up with a good name. In the meantime, let me talk about my wee effort at growing something. Mine is a container garden. You don't need a yard or a bunch of farming tools or the strength and energy of a young healthy person to start a garden. I am proof of that. I started mine in window boxes filled with peat soil. I got Organic soil and a bunch a young plants that I transplanted. If I had less money and more ego I might have started with seeds. Fortunately I have no illusions about my natural farming ability.

Despite having lived on a farm as a child and growing up in families that always grew something that we ate, and despite having far too many green-thumbed relatives, I know that I have no natural gift in this area. That said, I still decided to take a stab at minimal self-sufficiency. While I don't share the pessimism of some gardeners- I don't expect the economy or the earth to self-destruct in the near future-I do think it doesn't hurt to become a little less dependent upon corporate agribusiness for all my sustenance.

And besides I like contributing to the oxygen levels, prefer organic food but can't always afford it, am dissatisfied with the quality of produce available in Florida, and most importantly, I have a bunny and she has a big appetite. This garden is for her as much as for me.

My little garden currently contains tomatoes, squash, green beans, cucumber, and many herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano, cayenne, and cilantro.) I also have seeds for lettuces, carrots, parsley, pumpkin and turnip greens for when I am feeling more confident and ambitious. We will see how the plants fare first. My goal right now- keep them alive. 

I don't have a very good track record with house plants but as long as nobody tells the porch plants about this I think I will be OK. I keep telling them they are happy and well-nourished and will be growing big. Its only day 2 but so far I feel certain that they find my pep talks persuasive and compelling.

So walk, get on your bicycles, or into your eco-friendly cars, people, and head to the nearest nursery, home depot or lowes-type store and buy your seeds or young plants, your spade, your containers and your waterpot and get to farmin'! Its easy to do, does not take much time (I am a nocturnal farmer), lowers blood pressure and leads to feelings of great peacefulness (You see, I CAN be compelling, right?)

And hey, the muscles you acquire digging holes, pulling weeds, and hauling water and the vibrant health you acquire from eating fresh home-grown produce will no doubt make you very sexy to the mates you desire!
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