Sunday, March 20, 2011
About My Skinny Garden, Part 1
For the longest time I thought that was the reason I started gardening.
I was standing in the middle of our failing local "French Market" one Saturday morning trying to figure out why there was such a big price difference in the identical looking tomatoes being sold by the only two vendors there when I noticed the vendor with the more expensive tomato was white and the less expensive tomato vendor was Hispanic. After that, it was like I was sucked into some vortex of crazy thoughts about race and prejudice and produce. I questioned my own sanity. Why I even cared. Why I suddenly felt like the tomato I chose to buy that day was about so much more than just a tomato. That grocery store tomatoes were a lot less stressful, albeit less tasty, because you didn't have to look the farmer in the eyes. Then wondering what it would be like to always have to look the person responsible for the production of my food in the eyes.
Ultimately, buying tomatoes that day became too much of a moral dilemma and in that moment I decided I'd just grow them myself. My quick trip to the farmer's market turned into a much longer trip to my local big box store where purchased the things my mother told me to when I called her frantically after leaving the French Market. "Mom? What do I need for a vegetable garden?" Black weed barrier, some plastic stakes to hold the weed barrier down, a bag of mushroom compost, peat moss and a few tomato, pepper and herb plants.
Back at home, I selected a spot immediately in front of our dilapidated patio. The placement of the garden was terrible from an aesthetic perspective but given my tendency to quit projects, I thought if I put it as close to the house as possible, in as conspicuous place as possible, I'd be more likely to maintain it. After I decided where the garden should go, I laid the black fabric on top of the grass but the grass was too tall; the fabric wouldn't lay flat and I immediately became frustrated. I tried to drive the green plastic stakes into the corners but the the thin fabric kept tearing away from the stakes. I needed a hammer to get the stakes through the thick layer of sod but being plastic, many of the stakes broke under the weight of the hammer. I fought with it all, cussed, threw stuff. I was glad nobody was there to see me. When I had the fabric secure enough, I used kitchen scissors to cut X's a couple of feet apart where I planned to plant the tomatoes and about a foot apart for everything else. And then I began to dig.