Gardening as been a steady tradition in my family for the past 12 years. In 2010, I had a strong desire to create a different life form, sprouting in my urban-suburban plot of land. Michael Pollan’s words beckoned me, “Eat food, not much, mostly plants” (Pollan, 2006). My first seeds were coddled: I started exactly 8 weeks before the last frost date, treated them with light mists of a bleach solution, encircled peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls around them to protect them from the ants that were encroaching upon their roots. I transplanted seeds-turned-seedlings with the utmost delicacy. I soaked garlic in olive oil overnight and made a homemade squirrel repellent. The result: enormous cucumbers, scrumptious peppers, juicy tomatoes, and an endless supply of butternut squash. My husband learned to love butternut squash soup. We made heaps of guacamole and salsa. I felt that I had come first place in the gardening race.
I was not such a great gardener after my daughter was born. She was a different life form, one that needed more than a few light mists of liquid and ultraviolet rays. The following spring and summer, my only yields were Corno di Toro peppers and Purple Cherokee tomatoes. However, my gardening became less of a sport and more of a benefit to my growing daughter. I wanted to give her the best. Even produce at the organic market was not going to give her the maximum benefit nutritionally. According to Feder (2001), “…when fruits and vegetables are harvested, they begin to lose nutrients” (p. 12). It was so appealing to me to have a plentiful resource in the front yard for the taking.
Throughout the years, my gardening yield has decreased in quantity. However, the produce that I have harvested have been picked by my children’s little hands, tasted by their impressionable tongues. My youngest child cannot wait to plant the seedlings. My oldest child still loves homegrown tomatoes. We pass out our cucumber yields to neighbors.
Nevertheless, the next generation has observed my woes with fencing, mulching, crow shooing, groundhog-cursing. I still cannot grow blueberries. Some rodent or crow always eats my corn. But I know they will think of these experiences fondly, like when someone burns the turkey on Thanksgiving, throws a tantrum at a child’s birthday party, breaks an ornament, refuses to wear some holiday garb.
Despite my gardening fails, our tradition of gardening has stuck. The cycle of this wonderful, rewarding, back-breaking tradition has stuck. I’m raising my theoretical grandchildren; my children know they can live in a world where people grow their own food and will hopefully teach their own children the same. As Jo Robinson states in the beginning of her book, Eating on the Wild Side, we as a society “will not experience optimum health until we recover a wealth of nutrients that we have squandered over ten thousand years of agriculture” (2013, p. 7). They can also benefit from calling it a tradition, which is a habit that is repeated over and over for generations to come.
Feder, John. (2001). Organic Gardening for the 21st Century. Francis Lincoln Ltd.
Pollan, Michael. (2006). Six rules for eating wisely. Retrieved from https://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/six-rules-for-eating-wisely/.
Robinson, Jo. (2013). Eating on the Wild Side. Little, Brown and Company.