Monday, April 2, 2012

Thanks For Having Me, Oprah

Sometimes my mind wanders. This usually happens when I'm on a long solo run or driving. I'll find myself making a mental list of all the things that need to get done over the weekend or, if I'm really lucky, daydreaming about "making it" (doing what, I don't know) and how my first interview with Oprah will go. Driving to work from Master Gardener class a few weeks ago, I was wondering how I would respond when Oprah asked me why I felt gardening was such an important part of life. My daydream response hit just the right balance of emotion and reason and turned the whole country on to vegetable gardening.

While this is pretty unlikely to reach an Oprah-scale audience, I do want to say a few things about growing your own food. You aren't going to forever replace trips to the grocery store with a few square feet of vegetable plants, so you shouldn't expect to. Sometimes, other critters are going to get to your lovely cucumbers before you do. And it's probably not going to be cheaper. But guess what? It's fun. Watching plants grow and succeed under your care is rewarding. And it's really, really cool to pick something, rinse off the soil, and take a bite. 

Anyone can garden. Maybe your job sucks or you're unhappy with where you live or your health isn't the best. Guess what? Tomatoes don't care. If you set them in a sunny spot and water them, tomatoes will produce some of the most delicious fruit on the planet regardless of who you are or what you do. 

I grew up around a garden. My grandparents had a deep lot with a large, rectangular vegetable garden in the back. I don't have vivid memories of spending time there, but I do remember how exciting it was to walk to "the back" and see what was ripening. I remember green beans crawling up a simple leaning trellis and wondering how my grandmother knew when to pull potatoes out of the ground. A garden is such a special and peaceful place, and it doesn't take much to get started. 

Below are a couple of great resources for those of you in central Maryland if you are interested in learning more:

Home and Garden Information Center - You can call or email this group of horticultural experts with ANY plant question. They also have a lot of great (and free) publications on their website.
Grow It Eat it - All about growing your own vegetables. Great guides for beginners.

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