We all are motivated by certain things; it can be money, family or fortune. When it comes to summer gardening, I am motivated by one thing: fear.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I have grown lazy, complacent, and too dependent on others. Seriously, what if SHIT GOES DOWN? When I was living in California, with its beautiful weather and intermittent earthquakes, the thought never occurred to me, but moving to places like Louisiana and Chicago, where atmospherically shit does go down in the form of hurricanes and tornadoes regularly has changed my thinking. When bad things happen, say a zombie apocalypse, you are left to rely on only yourself and your stash.
Call me crazy, but this thought has taken up residence in my mind.
So, religiously, in early March, I start my garden from seed on my dining room sideboard. For me, summer gardening always starts with lofty dreams of chubby, ripe heirloom tomatoes, and other garden delights. I have visions of me donning my favorite overalls and a big floppy hat and digging my fingers into the soft earth, all the while taking out the occasional zombie. I am delighted by the idea, and reassured by my foresight.
Obviously, there’s more to my gardening than surviving a zombie apocalypse, or else I would be a super-couponer with a massive stash of processed food in my basement. I like growing my own food. Even if I’m not a fan of the food I’m growing, I love the process of gardening, the investment of time and energy, and the reward. I relish the idea that I am somehow bettering the environment and, let’s face it, when the zombie apocalypse hits, I’ll be one bad-ass, self-sustaining bitch.
So, I started my garden a last week, and basically, it’s an Italian garden. Tomatoes, green and red peppers, thyme, and basil. I’m not a big fan of tomatoes, however, I married a guy who is part Italian (Hello, Mancinas!), and we LOVE tomato sauce. Also, have you ever tasted a home-grown tomato? They’re delicious and waaaay better than the mass-produced ones at your local grocery store, which are basically grown to ripen on a shelf and to look pretty. Store-bought tomatoes are the trophy wife of the produce section, and, in my opinion, not worth my time, energy or calories (I feel this way about shitty cheese, too. Don’t buy shitty cheese. Just don’t.)
This year, we plan on jarring our San Marzano tomatoes and red peppers, eating our heirloom tomatoes ripe from the vine (with salt, pepper and a hunk of delicious homemade mozzarella), and canning tomato soup for those eternal winter days when one longs for a taste of summer. The basil and thyme will be dried for a later date, and shotguns, PVC outfits, and wild hair will be put in place for all the zombies that try to eat me or my summer bounty.
In all seriousness, a summer garden is not just about heading off a zombie apocalypse. It is about the power of life and hope. It’s about selflessly investing time--a lot of time--into first a seed, then a plant, and finally a flourishing garden. For me, it’s about slowing down and savoring the fruits of my labor, and appreciating the time that goes into a harvest that will feed me and my family over the course of a year or more. It’s about knowing where my food comes from, and having a hand in bringing it to my table. It’s about taking it all in, and developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with real food. So, zombies aside, my garden is a labor of love, and if I do happen to see a zombie wandering into my garden sanctuary, I will be waiting and ready to blow its fucking head off.
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