I have a friend who has a saying: Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. Read the book. Saw the movie. I feel the same way when it comes to the current “crop” of euphemistically glowing reports of how much fun a “kitchen” garden can be and how little it costs. There is all that saving when you “harvest” your own fresh veggies. Even the new First Lady is embarking on such an endeavor.
Once upon a time I had much in common with the main characters in the corny television comedy, Green Acres. I was going to grow my own veggies, make pickles, pick fresh berries from the woods, turn them into jams and jellies, then give bountiful gifts of home made goodness for Christmas.
It was a great plan with unintended consequences such as having big, black, mama bear chase me out of her blackberry patch. The neighbors stole my entire crop of figs. Then, to add insult to injury, my mother would almost daily descend upon my beautiful snow pea crop and devour them like a horde of locusts.
I started out “small”, with a single large flower pot. In it I planted a couple cherry tomatoes, a large beef-steak tomato, and three cucumbers, a bell pepper, a single zucchini, and two packs of snow pea seeds. Aside from the bell pepper plant never doing much, the whole thing was a great success. My mother had fresh snow peas, daily, along with some very good cucumbers.
Unfortunately, success is the mother of defeat.
I spent the winter reading up on seeds, where to find just the right veggie plants, and the exact plans for a raised vegetable “bed”. It was going to be a wonderful summer, tapped off by my first venture into pickle making, and my first jams. I was giddy over the success of my two dozen jars of fig preserves.
I was hot.
You think I was going to build the blasted raised beds?
I hired Stanley, who had spent the previous 3 years remodeling my 10,000 square foot Mill Gallery. The final price-tag for the raised beds was about $300.
We’re not talking soil — yet.
I wanted an organic veggie garden.
Do you know what happens when you use regular yard soil in your beautiful, new, raised veggie beds? You get a veggie garden full of weeds! The only solution is to either nuke it with an unhealthy dose of weed killer, or, deal with potting soil.
You guessed it. I opted for the potting soil.
I had two raised beds, three feet wide, six feet long, and a foot deep. Do you know how much potting soil is required – and that’s after a healthy crop of rocks on the bottom of the increasingly annoying money pit. The rocks went on top of the plastic liner that was designed to keep weeds and grass from growing up into the bed.
Do you think I personally hauled rocks for the durn bed?
I hired my mother’s gardener, then reminded her of the snow peas. Mr. Bryant’s services for two days ended up costing about $75. I then had to give him $20 for the gas for his pickup truck. He went into town and picked up 20 large bags of potting soil at 5 bucks a pop.
Are you keeping track of the simple veggie garden? I had spent nearly five hundred dollars and not even bought the blasted veggie plants for it yet. Those were another hundred bucks. We’re up to six hundred and counting.
After a month I was fully convinced Mother Nature had been playing a practical joke on me the previous season. The watermelon plants died. The snow peas took over, and spread like wild-fire. The Brussels did not sprout. NEVER ever plant a half-dozen zucchinis if you have a sense of self-preservation. I had some cucumbers. Okay, I had enough cucumbers to convince me to go into the pickling business. I was also going to make zucchini pickles. By that time my mother threatened to disown me if I brought another zucchini into her house.
The final price tag for the pickling spices, jars, etc. was about $125. I gather you realize I’d spent upward of $800 on the fiasco. Oh, the pickles were so successful, I decided to make blackberry preserves. That’s when I was chased by mama bear. We were getting our berries from the same patch.
By the end of the summer I’d spent nearly a thousand bucks on the damn veggie garden. When I realized I could have used that money for a week down on the Islands, I gave up and treated myself to a week at Club Med on Guadeloupe.
Now you know why I snicker and roll my eyes when I hear the “green thumbs” describe how inexpensive and cost effective a family veggie garden can be. Do yourself a favor and don’t even think about it. Find a good farmer’s market and learn how to make bread and butter pickles with the bushel of cucumbers you will end up buying to "save money".
Unfortunately, the small kitchen garden, flower pot salsa garden, or even kitchen shelf herbs may soon be a thing of the past. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has introduced H.R.875. Called the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, it will basically reclassify even that pathetic flowerpot of tomatoes and cucumbers into a “Food Production Facility”. If complex records are not kept logging every step one would take to plant that pot of produce, the backyard gardener could be subjected to upwards of a million dollar fine.
The bill, introduced at the behest of the Congresswoman’s hubby, Stanley Greenburg, who works for bio-tech giant Monsanto, will basically outlaw organic gardening, organic food, and the small family farm.
Like all “good things” the bill was designed to protect innocent people from salmonella poisoning, etc. Instead it places under government control EVERY food production facility in the nation. This includes any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation. By law, all grain elevator operators, stock yards, ranchers, farmers, community gardens, or farmer’s markets will now be controlled by the government. Anyone who produces food of any kind — meat, milk, fruit, vegetables, grains, etc. — and transports that food for sale will be subjected to warrantless government inspections of their farms and food production records.
Further, the law allows warrantless search and seizures of your records and products during unannounced inspections. They can tell you how to feed your farm animals, how to plant your fields, and manage your ranch. If you refuse unlimited access to federal agents, you will be fined a million bucks.
You might also want to know that Rosa DeLauro has received nearly $200,000 in donations from sources like Monsanto. The bill has 39 sponsors so far. She’s a pal of Rahm Emanuel.
I wonder what all these new regs would do to Michelle’s now famous White House Kitchen Garden? We all know she will not be subjected to these new laws if they pass. The big question, though, is this Nanny State Over-reach, or simply a corrupt politician prostituting herself to the highest bidder, and selling out every farmer and rancher in the country? The Nanny State implication is bad enough, but if this is simply a corrupt politician sponsoring a truly repulsive bill for her donors, her actions are even more despicable.