Friday, January 16, 2009

Idealism vs Reality

I've been wrestling with myself lately over my ideals vs the reality of my life and finances. In the world I want to live in, all that we eat and plant is organic, local and sustainable. In my reality, I don't have the time, money and resources for it.

When I went to order my seeds, I looked through my favorite catalogs. The ones who are anti-Monsanto. The ones who are sustainable and open pollinated. Places like Baker Creek, Seeds of Change and Fedco. (those are my favorites) I happily circled all the wonderful seeds that I wanted to grow. I added in some new varieties to expand my repertoire and dreamed of my garden. Then I opened my seed box. The box that had been happily sitting and waiting for my for the past 6 months or so. The box that was bursting with seeds purchased for pennies last year in a fit of peak oil panic. I had completely forgotten that they were there. The me that is practical realized that sometimes you have to just be prepared. The me that is an idealist, is cringing at the packages labeled by Burpee and others. What I am coming to is that no matter where the seeds come from, they will still grow wonderful, healthy, organic, life sustaining vegetables. They are still going to make a fantastic garden that I can be proud of. There is nothing wrong with these seeds.

The same can be said when I go grocery shopping. My ideal would be to buy only the organic and healthy foods. I want to be able to cook everything from scratch and feed my family whole grains and wonderful healthful foods at every meal. My reality is that my family would revolt and so would my pocketbook. My reality is a box of Nabisco Vegetable Thins and a bottle of Diet Coke. Does this make me a bad person? Of course not, but it still makes me feel bad.

Why do I beat myself up over these silly things? Most people in America couldn't care less about the things I'm beating myself up over. In reality most of them wouldn't have the first clue what I was even talking about. Heck, a few years ago, I wouldn't have known or cared. The problem now is that I do know and knowing makes me incapable of ignoring it and not caring.

So now I will plan my veggie garden and plant my seeds from both the ideal places and the not so ideal places. I will still be doing more than most people would ever even consider. My neighbors will still think I'm nuts. My family will confirm that I'm nuts and I will struggle with myself. It will be good.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Planning for the perfect garden

As a gardener, I am constantly striving for that perfect garden. This year is no exception. In fact one of my resolutions is to make the most of my garden this year. To use up every bit of veggie goodness.

To that end, I've been searching through seed catalogs and dreaming of warm weather. The 2 catalogs I'm really drooling over this year are Baker Creek and Seeds of Change. They are both maintained by companies that are anti Monsanto, which is very important to me. There are so many exotic things to grow out there and I wish I had the space and nerve to try some of the more 'out there' veggies. This year the new thing to try will be baby blue hubbards. I'm actually really excited about these. I've always loved blue hubbards, but they are huge and impractical for my little family. Now I get to grow what I want and can use as well.

I've been driving my family crazy with the planning. I have out my graph paper and seed catalogs. There will probably be dozens of variations on next years garden planned out. There are some empty spaces and I'm not sure what to plant in them. In fact, I've got a whole 4x12 bed with nothing in particular planned. I keep asking my family what they want more of. They roll their eyes and tell me for the 1000th time that they don't care. Nobody gets it. So, I find other gardeners and drive them insane with my planning. The reality is, I'll end up planting more of something boring like green beans and carrots.

In the end the whole point of my garden is to provide my family with food for the year. I love being able to go to the basement and grab some peas from the freezer, or a jar of tomatoes, or even a squash. The knowledge that these vegetables are not only yummy, but organic and more nourishing than anything in the grocery store is wonderful for me. Its just something I need to keep in mind when it is August and my kitchen looks like a war zone with tomatoes and canning jars everywhere. Those days when I just can't look at another green bean and can't be bothered to weed the squash patch again.

Sunday, January 4, 2009