I am inspired, people.
I just returned from a book signing in Great Barrington where I briefly met Amy Cotler, local foodie, chef, and author. Her book The Locavore Way is a great gift for the foodie in your life who already counts Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore’s Dilmena as favorites.
In The Locavore Way, Cotler breaks down seasonal eating, CSAs, local vs. organic, eating out, and includes a produce glossary and lots of simple recipes. There’s a slight Berkshire/Columbia County slant ’cause she lives in Stockbridge, but she assures us that the book is for anyone who cares about food and health.
Anyhow, for the past several months Anuj and I have been toying with the idea of starting a vegetable garden this spring/summer. I know, I know, we live in the country – farm country, no less – for two years and are only now considering it. But keep in mind, neither of us are gardeners. Sure we have gardening families (I grew up with a huge garden, both my parents have gardens, Anuj’s parents have a garden and my grandparents even manage to maintain an impressive if unwieldy one at their place in Maine that they visit less frequently than we come upstate) but somehow the gardening gene must have skipped our generation. I think two things have kept us from starting a garden to date:
1. we’re lazy.
2. we’re scared.
The laziness I make no apologies for. When we get here on Friday nights or sometimes Saturday mornings, all we really want to do is relax. And if we’re inclined to cook (which we often are – though not as often as we should) we’ll just swing by the store or farmer’s market and pick up some fresh meat and produce and be done with it. The idea of tending a garden just seems like an awful lot of work, and well, we work all week.
I imagine the people who have gardens don’t think of tending them as work, they think of them as fun or meditative or soul-enriching. I have friends who work in community gardens in the city, which to me sounds like the most unappealing, thankless way to spend a Saturday afternoon: digging a two-by-two plot of dirt in a sweaty, sticky concrete jungle in the hopes that a few carrots and heads of lettuce will emerge? No thanks, I’ll be inside drinking sun tea and looking at carrots in the latest issue of Bon Appetit.
Clearly, if we’re going to have a garden, we need to make some kind of mental shift. Lord knows we have the setting for a garden. We have the resourcefulness. We even have the plot where the previous owners had their own garden. And now we’re building the inspiration through our families, our friends upstate who make it look so easy, blogs of newbies like us, and books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Locavore Way.
As for Reason We Don’t Have a Garden Number 2: I can only speak for myself, because I’m not sure Anuj would say he’s afraid of gardening (in fact, he’ll probably get mad that I even insinuated it), but I am. The idea of plotting and planning and buying seeds and digging and fencing and watering only once a week (what if we miss a weekend?) just fills me with dread. It’s a lot of work. And I don’t mean work work like I mentioned above, I mean there’s a lot of room for error and I’m afraid I’ll screw it up. I am very organized, and love to plan things, but I don’t think I have the tender’s touch. I can’t even keep a houseplant alive. Try giving me an orchid – the flower that’s supposed to last forever. I’ve got two dead ones on the terrace back in NYC as we speak. (I put them there after they died, thank-you-very-much).
Nevertheless, my friends, I am willing to take the fear and the laziness head-on. I really am. I am willing to take a risk. Maybe it’s just about starting small. Plant only a few veggies. Ones that’ll practically grow themselves.