Monday, April 30, 2007

Open Me First

The first thing one does when developing a new interest is, of course, to go shopping. Preferably on the internets.

In this case, I was looking for a raised bed kit so I could plant my new vegetable patch. Why not plant directly into the ground? Well, for one, because my soil is apparently a strange mix of clay, sand, and oh..nuclear waste. Everything I've attempted to plant directly into the dirt ends up shriveling into an exoskeleton within days.

I selected an attractive cedar-like kit made of recycled milk jugs (bonus!), and eagerly awaited its arrival. It came a week ago and I got right to putting it together.

I carried all the boxes outside (it came in several boxes, all long and somewhat heavy). I opened the box, pulled all the pieces out, and laid it on the concrete patio.

Then I stared at the pieces for awhile. Would have been nice to have some instructions, thank you very much! But still, I figured anyone with even an average IQ could put it together..I mean, there weren't really any screws. It was just a big puzzle. So, using my prodigious brain power, I managed to finally get all the pieces for the first planter together, in just under twice the time it really should have taken a fourth grader.

Only then, did I find the instructions. In the box clearly marked, "Open Me First!" Did I mention my prodigious brain power?

So, once I disassembled it and put it back together, you know, properly, I had two beautiful planters.

How much green is too much?

Allow me to introduce myself. I am 38, recently married, living in suburb in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is not generally your first thought for a backyard farm project, but then, as a Jewish American Princess from Honolulu, Hawaii, I am not your first thought for a backyard farmer either! So far my experiences in animal husbandry and agriculture have been limited to exactly three tomato plants, two domestic animals and a odd assortment of failed things in pots. In fact, not only am I NOT a natural green thumb, I've come to jokingly (and with a shocking lack of good taste) refer to my yard as "Auschwitz for Plants."

So why the newfound zeal for growing my own food? Well, for is IN baby. Haven't you heard? At least every other car in the Whole Foods parking lot is now a Prius..or at least the Hybrid version of the Pilot (gas mileage: 22mpg instead of 14. Sheesh. Think that's good enough people?) Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ritchie are wearing only organic hemp to rehab these days, Gwyneth shops the local farmer's market for organic apples for, well, Apple; and a billboard for Brentwood Magazine screams "THE GREEN ISSUE" at me on my daily commute.

In all seriousness though, it started with my water bill. I opened it once day and just about fell over. I mean, I always knew it was high..but suddenly, looking out at the emerald expanse of a yard that currently serves little more purpose than doggy-poo receptable, I suddenly thought..what the heck am I doing? Why am I spending all this cash on watering, fertilizing and mowing this patch of grass when I could be putting this land to good use? I ran inside and started pulling out old Sunset Magazine issues. Usually I just blip right past the gardening section and head for something more interesting, like the travel section or food, but this time I actually started reading the articles. I was instantly entranced! Huge colorful photos of succulent vegetables and 4-foot tall tomato plants, glowing with health, tucked into neat boxes stared out at me. And the instructions...its so easy! Why have I wasted so much time? What kind of environmentalist am I?

So, I am going to make a commitment. By the end of this summer, I hope to have grown enough food to feed our little household for two weeks.

Or at least, throw just one bitchin' barbecue.