The Vegetable Garden Pt1

Posted on May 27, 2010

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Life in the Boomer Lane has never had any interest in planting anything in the ground, tending it, watching it grow, and then eating it. She assumed that she was genetically unable to do so, because, for many generations in Eastern Europe, her family wasn’t permitted to own land, and so the “farming genes” were sort of erased.

But she has noticed over the last few years that I am being surrounded by a group of happy backyard farmer-types who pass their success stories on to her. Then Husband writes emails about how he and his wife go out to their back 40, gather armfuls of vegetables (probably in handmade baskets) , come back into the house and whip up world-class salads and vegetables to complement their dinner.

LBL’s older son tends his garden with the reverence he used to reserve for his Nintendo Playstation. He lives in Seattle and send photos of lush vegetables, followed by photos of the amazing food he has prepared with them. On LBL’s last trip to Seattle, when she we were doing the Vegetable Garden Tour, she asked him what kind of much he used. She did so, not because she cared about mulch, but because she wanted to be an Interested Mom. Her son said, “Mom, I make my own mulch.” Of course he does.

Her younger younger son and his girlfriend start each day with a routine that includes watering, weeding, and lovingly staring at and talking to their happy brood of herbs, squash, peppers, whatever. LBL’s son’s girlfriend is the Mother Earth of Herbs. She’s never met an herb she doesn’t like and she’s never met an herb she can’t immediately toss into something. One day, she burned herself in the kitchen. LBL suggested that she purchase aloe lotion. “Oh, I’ll just buy an aloe plant,” she said, “boil the leaves and make a soothing tea that I can apply to burns.” LBL wondered how long the burn would be willing to wait around, until the low plant arrived.

Even LBL’s daughter, who lived in New York for years, managed to grow things in pots. When she and her soon-to-be husband (she calls him that because she is, after all, her daughter’s mom and feel the need to establish legitimacy around their living arrangements before marriage) moved into a third floor walk up in Brooklyn, they had the amazing luxury of having a balcony. This allowed them to have a fully functioning vegetable farm in pots and hanging baskets. They created a veritable green paradise, overlooking a trash-strewn, abandoned concrete something-or-other below.

You get the idea, here. LBL was starting to get a little intimidated. She had always assumed that when she reached a certain age, she would wake up one morning with a burning desire to take a “Master Gardeners Class” (She thinks of this as Ninja for Older Women) and to fill her house with seeds, gloves, hats, implements with curved metal claws, and those catalogs that sell entire lines of rubber clothing.

Nothing happened. Each day that passed, nothing happened. A close friend of LBL has a “back 40” in front of her house. LBL can’t even go there without being confronted with her own ineptitude. Another friend calls or emails her and tells her things like “Wow, I spent ten hours today in the garden. I’m beat!” The only thing that would make LBL spend ten hours in a garden would be if her house were invaded either by colonies of machete-wielding rats or by the cast of “The Hills,” and the garden afforded her some kind of protection.

LBL has the misfortune of having married someone every bit as garden-oriented as myself. As an adult, Now Husband lived in New York and in DC. In New York, he was in a small apartment; in DC he lived in a condo. He’s a fabulous cook who feels no need to grow his own ingredients. Together, LBL and NH have been committed to supporting the produce of Safeway and Whole Foods.

But LBL couldn’t shake the growing feeling of being inferior. She was determined to give vegetable gardening a try. First, she turned over all the photos of the Russian and Polish ancestors who were usually staring her down from the dining room walls. Better they shouldn’t be watching this.

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Posted in: food