Last weekend I faced the reality of my garden. I had food enough to feed a village, at least if the menu was zucchini and cucumbers. My husband and I gathered boxes and baskets, and after several back breaking trips filled his car to take them to the food pantry after offering some to his coworkers.
How had I allowed this to happen? Why had I tended my garden, weeded and watered, put in so many hours, just to grow food I would never eat? My family doesn’t even like zucchini! Cucumbers are always good for pickles if you can’t eat them all fresh, but I’d already made 18 jars, and enough is enough. We gathered several more overstuffed bags of cucumbers growing monstrously large even after pickling those 18 jars a few weeks ago.
I think the reason I grew so much this year was because last year the garden was a fiasco. After just as much care and tending and hours weeding, the tomatoes got some sort of fungus, as did the potatoes; the corn crop was destroyed by an animal in a single night; the brussells sprouts never amounted to more than little bumps; the squash vines died from squash beetles, and my dog ate the asparagus as fast as it poked through the ground. I was determined that this year would be different. I planted zucchini not because I like it, but because zucchini grows no matter what, and I just wanted to produce food, even if that included food that I don’t much enjoy. And boy was it the year for food. This hot summer produced the biggest bounty ever, including a beet bigger than my head (but which I’ll thoroughly enjoy in a borscht extravanganza).
What lesson did I learn? I hope I learned to stop planting foods I do not eat, but I suspect I’ll forget this lesson. Oh, I learned it for next summer, but there will always be years of lack, and I’ll likely respond to those summers the way I did this year. And then I’ll put in hours of time gathering food to give away to others. I guess that’s not so bad. Maybe it’s even MOGO.
Zoe Weil, author of Most Good, Least Harm
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