Here is an example. Today was one of those nice cool fall days, perfect for garden work. I had a long task list but encountered too many obstacles to complete even half the list. For one, the wheelbarrow’s wheel was underinflated, a fact I noted but did not stop to do anything about until, when it was fully loaded with dirt, I turned it hard and the tire completely deflated. Ahem. (This is one of those tube-less tires: the only way to refill it is to take it to a mechanic.) Considering I had lots to do with that wheelbarrow, I was rather peeved. Off came the wheel, and off it went with the husband to get reinflated.
So I undertook a bit of chopping therapy, dispatching old broccoli plants into tiny pieces for the compost. It helped me get back on track. And, if you breathe correctly, chopping with a machete is something you can do for a long time…or, well, at least I can. WHACK!
Here’s the thing about crop failure. I *understand* crop failure. But crop failure, as a black and white concept, is fairly rare in a vegetable garden as varied as mine is. In other words, yes, I can and do expect reduced yield, but seldom is something completely written off. I did find a sweet potato or two today. Not the buckets I had expected, but really, it can’t be a complete failure if I found a meal.
I have set out to produce everything we eat, year-round. This doesn’t mean I have fields of wheat or corn, oats and rice in the back forty. What I do have is a full freezer, sagging shelves of canned goods and a somewhat wimpy cold cellar of stuff that I can grow. I have fallen short in the onions department, and it was a crummy year for the cole crops. Certainly, we will not starve; we could probably live on potato/leek soup all winter (with no exaggeration, such is my love of spuds and leeks). The winter garden is mainly greens: someone once said that at $5 a box of organic greens, my cold frame will pay for itself in a season, and…well, let’s just say it will take two seasons.
For me, it is a moral imperative, this growing of stuff on our land. I have the land, I have the knowledge, I have the will. That I harvested only one broccoli romanesco means that that one plant was like Thanksgiving turkey: so celebrated was it, so lovingly prepared, so savored. (My two remaining Brussels sprout plants will actually BE Thanksgiving fare.) I am ever grateful I have the opportunity and the health to go out and bust up the sod, to coax stuff into being for our plates. I am sad when things don’t grow well, that the critters or the weather lays waste to something. But I truly believe that this little thing I can do, using just my own sweat, is greatly helping the health of those I love…and the reduction of CO2 that growing things here instead of getting them from California helps this planet, and all of you, that I love, too.