It’s January, and it seems I can rant just fine about food production. It’s January, and we’re finally snow-covered, so I can’t do much outside. I do my gardening now mostly with pages: in my notebooks, in books, on the Web. So I was reading here recently about putting more “fun” into your veg garden this year. Well, I think gardening IS fun, 95% of the time, but I understand how people can distracted, or even discouraged, in the edibles department: there’s a lot of work involved, for sometimes very little payoff.
I thought about my (fun) plans for this year’s garden, and the one new-to-me item I have ordered is sea kale. Now, this is an interesting factoid. I have consumed nearly every American publication on vegetable production…or so it would seem, between my sagging bookshelves and my worn-out library card. Either every book has the same information (and package the info. differently), or there really isn’t much that is new(s) to me, U.S.-garden-wise. It’s when I stumble across non-American books that my learning really climbs (or my ignorance does; your choice). Thus, the sea kale, a vegetable I didn’t know. I found it in one of my all-time fave organic books. It’s British.
In it I have learned many little semantic differences between the U.S. veg garden and one found in the U.K. (You’d expect this, especially if you’ve ever traveled there, especially in the company of a guy named Randy…but I digress.) But it goes further. They call something purple “broccoli” and something green “calabrese,” whereas we certainly don’t have the purple stuff growing in OUR gardens. There’s a boatload of other cultural (literally: soil culture on up) differences that I have gleaned from this, and other, books from the U.K.
But it really has me thinking. If I’ve learned as much as I have from one garden book from a country so similar to my own, I can only imagine what I would learn from a book from China, with its 4,000+ year old gardens. Or Peru, with their ancient terraces of potatoes. Or all the squashes and gourds in Africa. Or Iraq and Iran, the site of the Fertile Crescent, and 11,000 years of cultivation.
And somehow I am not so smug about what I know, for I know nothing!
But just think about all the new veggies I could get for my garden….