Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Verdict Is In

Is it really a surprise that Practicality won the debate with Purity? Well, maybe it is surprising, if we're talking about it in the context of my own life.

Last week I was debating between the old and new versions of the square-foot gardening method. The new version seem so simplified and so yuppified; I worried I would be selling out. Process matters. Our society's over-emphasis on product has left us in quite a few conundrums.

Actually, I'm not trying to say that process matters more than product (even though I do love Annie Dillard's idea that "how we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives"--the idea that our processes end up equaling the product.). It's just that our when we end up compromising the integrity of our process in order to attain a specific product (i.e., the ends justify the means), we end up creating an unintended bi-product. And that's one of the problems plaguing our world today.

Wow. I'm already seeing how gardening holds so many enduring and essential understandings about Life. Cool beans.

This Sunday morning, reading in bed for an hour or so as I productively coped with my resistance to getting out of bed, I confirmed my choice to go with the new edition rather than the old.

Yes, the new version is simplified and yuppified, but it does it in a way that doesn't compromise my integrity. The newest modification is that I will build my garden entirely above ground, using a soil mix that I create myself from three different things purchased at a gardening center or home improvement center (i.e., 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 blended compost). I will build it in a box constructed with 4 x 4 wood planks (which I should be able to procure for free at a construction site, as long as a supply my best smile).

I will then divide this into 1 x 1 sections with a grid. This construction will allow me to plant a few seeds into each one hole in each section. I will abort (using scissors) all but one of the sprouts, so I save myself countless hours of thinning later down the line.

I'm quite fine with the idea that I will not have to battle with soil pH. Bleh! Besides, gardening cannot be my only hobby (I'm also considering taking up jazzercise, seriously). And, in fact, my primary reason for gardening is to produce food for my table. So it really has to be easy and productive.

I nearly cried (with joy), when I read this neat and tidy statistic: "One 4 x 4 square food garden box (equal to 16 square feet) will supply enough produce to make a salad for one person every day of the growing season." One more box will supply the daily supper vegetables. One more box will supply enough vegetables for preserving or sharing. I mean, come on people, it doesn't get much better than that!

So I think Matt and I will plant exactly 5 of these boxes for year one. Well, I may have to grow some extra carrots for snacks.

Mel, the author, advices against starting so big in one year, but, as the Dalai Lama says, "I am optimistic, but not without effort." I know I can do it. Hooray!

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camella said...
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camella said...

Be careful about getting construction-grade lumber--it's treated with all kinds of nasty chemicals. And if you don't use treated wood, even insect-resistent woods like cedar will give way to decomposition eventually. most people i know use shim blocks, which are relatively cheap and long-lasting (and home depot will deliver them for free, if you buy enough!). school of the woods and urban harvest use prefabricated garden frames, made from recycled plastic. i imagine these are pricey, but you might find some on craigslist.

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