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Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

The other day, my little boy brought me a clay pot that he had planted a seed in awhile ago and he was concerned that nothing had ever grown in it (it had, but unfortunately we have a mischievous cat that likes to pick at and eat young growing things). I realized that we had a bunch of pots and seeds that we had never used, so he and I decided to just go ahead and plant everything.

So we took down a handful of red clay pots, got out our half-full bag of potting mix, and our packets of seeds, and just kind of started planting. We’re moving soon, so it is not certain that these seeds are going to amount to anything–even if we manage to take them with us, they won’t necessarily survive the trip. But it was an intense reminder of how much I long to be connected to the cycles of life and death and nature and growing things.

I’m not much of a gardener, but for at least a couple of years I have had the unshakable instinct that I need to be. Something inside of me desperately craves a connection to the living world, even if I’m a big-city-lawyer. If I do not get it, I am certain that I will go insane.

It;s not practical for me (for us) to just run away to the backwoods and become self-sufficient subsistence farmers, even though I fantasize about it all the time. I have a mountain of debt from law school that’s only going to get paid off by slaving away in the Biglaw Law Mines. And I’m not unhappy about it, to be honest with you–I am fortunate in that I have found an area of the law to practice that I genuinely enjoy. But I am intensely aware that I am going to need to be connected to nature and to growing things, even as a busy urban professional.

I have big dreams for our new place in Chicago–I’ve been poring over my book (a christmas gift last year from my beautiful and sexy wife) The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City and getting all kinds of ideas for projects, depending on how much space and how much access we have to the outside we wind up having when we get to Chicago. But I can’t wait that long: even if planting now is a fool’s errand, it was something I had to do (and it was an awesomely fun way to spend the morning with my three-year-old as well). So we have pots of spinach, rosemary, and sage sitting on our windowsill, where the little monster-cat hopefully can’t get at more than one of them.

We’ll see how it turns out, but in any case, this is definitely a taste of things to come.

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Our large apartment complex provides a limited number of garden plots during the summer to residents. We reserved one two summers ago, and the results were kind of sad. Most of our vegetables got pilfered–someone actually uprooted all of our broccoli–and a slug got to our radishes and ate them from the inside. Generally, we failed to maintain it enough, so it always had mad weeds.

Our total harvest when all was said and done was two inedibly hot radishes that survived the slug assault, and one nice red-yellow tomato that my one-year-old son threw on the concrete and smashed. I picked it up and ate it anyways, because I wasn’t going to have my whole harvest wasted. It was delicious. But it was also really sad.

Last summer we lived in New York City while I did an internship at a law firm, but this summer we will be staying in Maryland while I study for and take the bar exam. We won’t be moving to Chicago (where I have been hired by a law firm) until December–the bad economy is forcing a lot of law firms to defer start dates for first year associates–so we’ll be around. And I am thinking about gardening again.

As great as it would be to grow some vegetables and give it another try, I think that won’t really be prudent. I have no desire to work even harder only to have my harvest stolen. I have given some thoughts to growing an herb garden, though. I really like cooking with fresh herbs (it doesn’t help that all of ours are a bajillion years old and probably have long lost all of their savor), but buying fresh herbs is expensive, wasteful, and a pain in the ass. So a kitchen garden has a lot of appeal. Maybe since my bar class is in the afternoon, we can make a morning routine of taking the kids out to tend the patch.

There’s no real reason we couldn’t grow herbs inside. We get plenty of sun through our window. But historically that has not turned out really well. We forget to water them, and they die. and they come with aphids and stuff, and look all icky, and they are no fun to use.

I realize that my dream of being a farmer is probably a long way off if I can’t manage to keep herbs alive in my living room. Small steps for Kullervo.

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