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RE: Why garden?

I've been on vacation (well, sort of, more about that later) so I'm chiming
in late, but I get this question from people I know fairly often. You've
seen me whining all summer about the amount of work I gave myself with my
too-big vegetable garden. Okay, this year was really too much, but normally
I do enjoy spending most of my summer gardening and preserving. Why do it,
they ask, when I could buy it so much easier? Am I saving that much money? 
I always ask them how much money they save going to the beach. Or buying
video games. I have no idea if I save any money, but it's not about that. My
enjoyment comes literally from the fruits of my labors. I start with a bare
patch of ground when it's cold and nasty outside. I plant, I water, I see
the plants grow and become lush and abundant, I harvest. I enjoy the fresh
tastes all summer and I know that all of it came solely from my own effort.
How not to be impressed with a perfectly ripe cantaloupe when what you
started with was a 1/2 inch seed? When I have too much I gripe, but I'm
still feeling pretty smug about it, because I was successful. Too little,
and I gripe, but I know every year is different and things change. I might
not be able to preserve everything in my own kitchen but I can do a lot, and
in the middle of winter I make many a meal where everything we eat is
something we grew, including the meat. I open my pantry and among the rows
of gleaming jars are memories of the fresh turned earth, the smell of ripe
peaches or just-picked dill, lugging 90 pounds of tomatoes inside to
process, finding monster zucchini. I'll forget about the effort it took and
only be proud of what I accomplished (it's what gets me into trouble the
next year). Summer is right inside the door! You can't buy that, not at the
farmer's market and certainly not from Birdseye. 
And the ornamental garden...to look out at the yard and see the pleasing
contrasts of colors and texture, the beauty of flowers...it lasts for
months. And it was my idea to put it all together; see how well that new
plant's doing, and look, there's a hummingbird nest. You can make plans for
things that will take years to come together, and isn't anticipation nice?  
Well. Off my soapbox. I know plenty of people who choose a lawn with one
tree and two bushes, and have a gardener trim it all once a week. I don't
get it, but they say it takes all kinds.


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-gardenchat@hort.net [mailto:owner-gardenchat@hort.net] On Behalf
Of kmrsy@netzero.net
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 3:44 PM
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Subject: [CHAT] Why garden?

My sister sent me this quote and her following question:

"Unless you've managed to plant pizza, gardening is a royal waste of
time in my book. There's nothing quite like spending a humid afternoon
waltzing a tiller through a quarter-acre of rocks and innocent worms, as
I recently did, to make you appreciate the genius of Clarence Birdseye
(the man who perfected, if that's the right word, frozen vegetables).
And think about it: when's the last time you caught a bunch of
freeloading rabbits in your grocer's freezer case?"

[From my sister]So how on earth are you and I related?  I can't imagine two
more disparate views on a subject, can you?

My reply to my non-gardening sister:

Think about mom and dad. Ok, they weren't related, but that's where we
get things from. In so many ways I was closer to Mom and you to Dad, but
there are parts of them in each of us. I hate to admit this but I think
I got the inclination from Dad.

Mom liked to sit and read, so do you. Dad liked to do things, to make
something from something else; so do I. That's not to say we don't each
have some of the other. You spend more time improving your mind and
building your knowledge, while I spend more on my canvas. You develop a
certain pleasure and accomplishment out of completing a puzzle while I
find that to be nice - but then it's done, over, nothing concrete to
show for it. I get that feeling of accomplishment from watching
something grow from the connections I built for it. It pays me back
every day. The hard work is worth it (besides - if it weren't for that I
might get no exercise at all) It has given me a connectedness both to my
home and to friends on the internet, something I sorely lacked without
it. Note, too that the writer was talking about vegetable gardening. I
don't grow food. I am an ornamental gardener and there is a huge
difference. Were it not for gardening I would feel so lost in this world
as I did before I found it. You don't know how good it can feel at the
end of a day of tilling and rock moving to fall into the adirondack and
survey your accomplishments and like what you see and think, "I did
that." Of course, you can say that about your kids, but that was a team
effort. This is all me. I don't know if that clears anything up, but
that's how it is.

[To Chat]Thought some of you might be able to relate.


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