After so many years in Florida, I have an aversion to yardwork. To me, gardening means sweating, getting a sunburn, and encountering fire ants, snakes, scorpions, and spiders the size of your hand that can rear up and hiss. Yardwork, to me, is the stuff of nightmares.
But now I live in the Pacific Northwest, where the creepy crawlies seem a lot less creepy to me. And while we’ve experienced a few heatwaves, they are blessed relief compared to the 110 degrees and 100 percent humidity that is Florida. I actually like being outside here. Rather than avoiding it, I take advantage of it. Here it’s a gift, rather than something to be suffered through.
So I’ve decided to start off small. I have been growing tomatoes. Last year I planted them on the ground and discovered that there’s quite a bit of natural competition for these juicy red balls of perfection. I refuse to use pesticides and I can’t fault other mammals for taking advantage of a good thing when they see it, so this year I’m using one of those upside-down hangers, and having a lot more luck.
It’s silly how excited I get, watching my little garden grow. When I finally get to harvest the literal fruits of my labor, there is nothing on earth that tastes more satisfying to me. “I made this,” I think, as I put it on my plate. And that makes me proud.
I think every parent should introduce their young children to a vegetable garden on whatever scale they can. Whether it’s rows of zucchini in the back yard, or just a tomato plant on the balcony, it’s a vital experience. Too many of us are too far removed from the reality of the food chain. We forget that the things that we put into our bodies don’t spontaneously appear on our supermarket shelves. It’s important to know that.
That feeling of being able to produce something that ultimately sustains a healthier you is like nothing else you can experience. Think of it as an opportunity to be even more connected to the web of life. I admit it. I’m hooked.