Tend Your Own Garden

Every day, one of the first things I do is walk through the garden and see what’s growing.

I wish very much that I had been building beds all winter — now I want them and don’t have them. Going to try potatoes in a trash can, that will help. Could also just rip out the broccoli, knowing the odds of it turning out well are low. I planted carrots next to the beans, but need space for more. Also need space for peppers, and somehow I have to try to fit both watermelons and pumpkins (everyone else voted for watermelons over pumpkins, but I gots to have my pumpkins!). Inside, I’ve started more basil and onions and more kinds of tomatoes.

I am cautiously excited about the strawberries. Could be a bumper crop (for me). I read up on their pollination, getting worried because I haven’t seen many bees. Turns out they wind pollinate and that’s usually good enough. The male and female parts are together on every flower so it doesn’t take much movement. Still, you can help the process along with a paintbrush so I did that the other day. I rebuilt my protective barrier of hardware cloth plus netting as well, to make it impossible for the birds to get the fruit, but I might re-rig it yet again. I do not trust those birds.

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I did some more rigging to get something in place for the peas to latch on to. Not pretty, but I think it will work.

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Nasturtiums and runner beans have sprouted. Lilacs have come and are mostly gone. And I planted marigolds in several spots.

Eff it, maybe I will just buy another raised bed and order a pile of dirt like I did last year and get another bed in. Pay the kids to do the shoveling.

***

Lately I’ve found myself in several situations where I have to explain my positions to my kids, mainly Aidan. There was the backpack saga. Aidan left his backpack outside of school for the umpteenth time, and some animal peed on it. I tried washing it but it didn’t really work, and frankly animal pee is not something I’m going to fight too much. So it was time for a new backpack. I wanted to look into Jansport, since they offer a lifetime guarantee. He wanted Nike. This led to a whole conversation about sweatshops and related issues. Good talk, but not enough to overcome his love for Nike. Jansport was also a little sketchy in terms of overseas labor when I looked it up. That led me to look at shopgoodwill.com for used Nike backpacks, and then finally eBay, where we found a used Nike one that he liked. I recognize that buying something used still contributes to the brand in some way, but… Nike has made improvements, so I’ll give them my secondhand support, just not my firsthand dollars. For the record, I looked up some made-in-the-USA backpacks, but they were all pretty plain and I knew he would hate them.

Which leads to another point: so often it seems that these buying choices are between a very large international company that uses overseas labor that clearly understands issues of sustainability and social responsibility, with a slick website claiming that it does the right thing; and a small U.S. company that (by virtue of being in the U.S.) treats its workers well, but which makes no mention of any other issue on its rudimentary website — whether its raw materials are ethically sourced, etc. In either case, it’s hard to get solid information.

Then our other big convo had to do with Chick Fil A. All three kids were begging me to take them there one night, so I launched into an explanation of why I don’t want to give them my money. Sebastian said something to the effect, indignantly, of “But gay people are great!” Aidan was unmoved. He is definitely at the age where he just doesn’t like for me to win arguments, period. So we ended up going. I think I decided that if I explained it to them and they still wanted to go, then whatever (also I didn’t want to cook). However, I had a turkey sandwich at home before going and didn’t eat anything there myself. It was just exhausting all around 🙂

Speaking of religion, I found this New Yorker article interesting. I remember reading about Rod Dreher before when his sister was dying. I won’t get all into it here, but perhaps this pull quote will show why I found it interesting:

“I believe that politics in the Benedict Option should be localist,” he said. The idea was not to enter a monastery, exactly. But Christians should consider living in tight-knit, faith-centered communities, in the manner of Modern Orthodox Jews. They should follow rules and take vows. They should admit that the culture wars had been lost—same-sex marriage was the law of the land—and focus on their own spiritual lives. They should strive to make Christian life meaningfully different from life under high-tech, secular capitalism; they should take inspiration from Catholic dissidents under Communism, such as the Czech activist Václav Benda, who advocated the creation of a “parallel polis”—a society within a society. They should pray more often. Start their own schools. Move near their church. St. Benedict, Dreher said, didn’t try to “make Rome great again.” He tended his own garden, finding a way to live that served as “a sign of contradiction” to the declining world around him.

It’s the whole “engage or retreat?” question that I’m always mulling. (To be crystal clear and for anyone new to this blog, I don’t espouse Dreher’s beliefs and I’m not particularly religious.)

 

In other consumer news, I bought a baseball belt for Sebastian without trying to find a used one first (bad); I had my first successful giveaway on the Buy Nothing site (good); and I bought refurbished ink cartridges for the first time, at inkjets.com, for half the price of new ones, and they work! (good!)

I have one lot of baby girl clothes left on eBay. The others have sold. I won’t be doing anything else with that stuff til the fall. Too much gardening. Selling the clothes wasn’t terrible profitable, but it did give me some cash at a time when I really needed it.

 

***

Quick run down on food:

Lots of salads, and turkey sandwiches with arugula. Yum yum. One night I made my own balsamic viniagrette for the first time. Plenty of arugula available out back but have to use storebought for the rest, for now.

Last Monday I made pasta mixed in a brown butter sauce with crimini mushrooms, following this recipe but adding garlic because duh. So good, I cannot tell you.

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So nice, I made it twice (this time with whole wheat tortellini). Hey, I couldn’t let the leftover mushrooms and cream go to waste.

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Got some assists the rest of the week from rotisserie chicken, pizza, Chick Fil A, and frozen eggrolls. Yesterday I made gravy and meatballs. I used some more of my frozen basil leaves in both. Everyone had linguine while I had fresh gnocchi from a local pasta maker. Gemma ate them too. They were my birthday eve treat. And tonight is pizza, because I sure as shootin’ am not cooking for the crowd on my birthday!

First farmer’s market for my town this weekend!

 

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