Skip to main content

Gardening Beyond the Election

Pea shoots and onions in November.

I wrote the other day that I was as prepared for a negative result from this election as I was for my beet seeds not to sprout. I was mistaken. On some very deep level that I was not aware of, I was prepared for neither outcome.

I am sorry to report that the beet seeds have not yet appeared, which has me worried that my dreams of beet pickles won't come true. They are a taste of home that I love - earthy, rich, and a little bit spicy - but I may have to plant again. I suspect the caterpillar I spotted the other day while watering feasted his way along the rows, working in the coziness of sun-warmed soil. I am working on a solution even as I remain a little bit hopeful.

While I'm not a fan of said caterpillar just now, I know need to understand who he is and why he's there. I'm not angry at the caterpillar, but I am disgusted with a common system for dealing with him. "Just spray," says one of my fellow gardeners, and I say no.

"I'd rather try something else," I reply, and she nods perhaps a bit skeptically. I promise to tell her what I learn.

The caterpillar is there for a reason that I must discover and understand. Ignoring him or blasting him with a chemical does more harm than good to my soil, me, and the other creatures that help me garden. Ultimately, it only makes the caterpillar's offspring stronger. I need to figure out why he is there, what he is doing, and how to work with him. I need to find a way to balance his presence with the presence of others. I don't want to destroy everything because of one hungry critter in my soil.

At the moment, I do other necessary things and think. I weed, work on building up the soil in another part of the garden in preparation for the red onions that will go in the ground on Sunday. I harvest some winter greens, enjoy the sight of the first pea shoots breaking through the soil, prepare the potato bed for February planting, and think about how best to be ready for summer. I map out where the popcorn and tomatoes will go as well as the zucchini, beans, peppers and squash.

Similarly, I was not fully prepared for the result of this election. I could not imagine that so many people would choose the way they did. I wept that day and have each day since, because my vision of a better America, and even of America itself, feels far away. Unlike the garden, though, I'm watching things unravel at home in a steady and horrible way. Like my garden, I am looking for a solution even as I strive to remain hopeful.

Like my garden and my soil, this situation is my responsibility. It is my duty at this time to find a way forward that respects others and protects the integrity of each member of my community. Mostly, I try not to despair as my heart breaks, and I feel my own anger rise. I do not want to entirely give up on my country. There are things about my home I never knew I held dear beyond my family and friends. I am proud of our imperfect history and of many things that are American. I do not want to turn away entirely, even though there are moments when I think it might be a good idea. However, that is another form of despair, and despair leads to inaction or to anger and regrettable action. None of this is helpful.

It's clear to me that we have damaged each other enough, but I don't think it's over yet. I know that we need to come together and collaborate, but I'm still grieving and angry. Soon, though, I need to put that energy to good use finding a way forward. It's up to me to help with that, because I didn't do enough before. I wasn't paying enough attention to what was all around me when I visited home, what I heard again and again from both sides. I know, too, that there are no guarantees. I also know I will find people so entrenched in their beliefs that they will be more obstacle than aid. However, if I don't try, I am casting my vote for destruction. There is still a chance. I don't want to make the same mistake again.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Kamakura Farmers Market: Giant Buddhas and Good Vegetables

Kamakura Farmers Market entrance A little more than an hour train ride south of Tokyo sits Kamakura. Like Kyoto and Nara, Kamakura is a former capital full to the brim with temples, shrines, and a bounty of historical sites lining its winding streets. Nestled in a cozy bay with beaches and a giant Buddha tucked amongst the rest, it's a city that invites multiple visits if not at least one. And those seeking a farmers market well-stocked with traditional vegetables, skilled growers ready to share recipes and chat about their wares, along with some nifty prepared foods to rejuvenate themselves after so many temples surely won't be disappointed, either. Kamakura Farmers Market - right side full of signs Started nearly twenty years ago, the Kamakura Farmers Market or Kamakurasui Nyogyou Rensokubaijo, runs seven days a week nearly year-round. A ten-minute walk from the station, the market is located in what at first glance looks like nothing so much as a run-down w

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l