Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman attempts to vegetable garden on a roof deck in Brooklyn, NY in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Feel free to taunt, advise or encourage her efforts as this series progresses.
I have a rotten knack for turning any pleasurable pastime into an exhausting and pricey project and in doing so, sucking all the joy and fun out of it. Gardening is no different.
It started in college as a cheap, meditative hobby that kept me grounded in the midst of academic mayhem, and occasionally introduced a vitamin or two into my ramen-based body. The undertakings grew grandiose and far less calming as I got older and set down roots in futon-free apartments with my name actually on the lease.
What was once a matter of nestling dollar store seeds into soil-filled buckets on the roof, or poorly deer-proofing my $15-per-year community garden plot next to the town's sewage treatment plant, became an expensive indulgence. Then it became an obligation.
Very early one summer morning, my husband crept into my home office, and was alarmed to find two rabbits staring at him. It wasn't the lagomorphic presence that rattled him - just that there should have been a third pair of eyes blinking back.
He ducked down and peered deeply into the cluster of old potato chip boxes that Claudette had fashioned into into a makeshift warren. No bunny. It was then he noticed that the dog fence cordoning off her living quarters had been nudged apart just wide enough to let her tiny body slip through. She'd made a break for it, and there was only one place she could have gone.
This year, you'll grow your own food. Not all of it and probably not even most or much of it. But you'll grow some, and that's going to change your life.
There are plenty of reasons to do this. Andrew Zimmern told us just this week that. "If everyone grew what they could, supported urban farms and community gardens in cities and local CSAs, the pressure relief on our overtaxed system would be immense. The resulting dollar shift would be staggering and deliver a positive shot in the arm to local economies. Our food would also be safer. Small action here can yield tremendous impact, immediately."
That's awfully compelling - and pretty intense. Perhaps start small. Grow an herb you are sick of having to pay money for at a store. Grow a vegetable that reminds you of how a grandparent's kitchen smelled. Grow a fruit you always want to have at your fingertips. Grow an ingredient that will make your sauce, stew, soup or salad taste the way it did when you had it at that little cafe in Rome, France, Mexico City or Des Moines.
This morning, I stood on my roof deck and made my African Guinea Flint corn have sex with itself.
Some folks knit, ride dirt bikes or collect small, disturbingly lifelike figurines of a baby Lord Voldemort. I get my kicks from raising heirloom vegetables.
The process isn't always quite so hands-on. Mostly, it's just a matter of sticking seeds or shoots in dirt, fertilizing, watering and presto - potatoes, tomatoes and radishes as far as the eye can see. And if you have the acreage, corn would probably not require the services of a social director.
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