The garden I’m eatin’

Here’s how I raised a wonderful, healthy, fresh vegetable garden working on it only 10 minutes a day. I’d spend 10 minutes a day telling Sue what to do and then I’d go play golf. It couldn’t have been easier. Some guys say they haven’t got the time to spend 10 minutes telling their wives how to garden, but I say, “Make the time,” and sure enough, fresh fruit and vegetables will be yours all summer long.

But then I learned my system had a flaw. Sue doesn’t listen to me and does her gardening without my help.

“In spite of it,” she said when I told her, that, like everyone else in these hard times, I will be growing my own garden this year. Why should I give my hard-earned money to a grocery store when I can give it to Burpee for seeds, the Home Depot for fencing, Lowe’s for fertilizer, the garden supply store for hoes, rakes, trowels, dandelion pullers, tomato stakes, Japanese beetle traps, hoses and 1,000 other tools of the trade. Suddenly, grocery store produce was starting to look like a bargain. And I was already off schedule. The shopping that day took two hours, not 10 minutes.



Sue showed me how to use the rototiller: a complicated, dangerous, nasty-looking bit of machinery. It would be easy to lose a toe or break a collarbone if I wasn’t careful. After 10 minutes of hanging on for dear life while the machine kicked and bucked, I had one square foot of garden tilled and ready to go. I was also missing my wallet and my sunglasses. The rototiller had shaken them out of my pocket and then plowed them under. It took the better part of 20 minutes to find both halves of my wallet. The sunglasses were a mangled knot of metal and glass. Once again I was off my 10-minutes-a-day schedule, and several hundred dollars in the hole. At least I’m not throwing my money down a rat hole. I’m throwing it down a gopher hole.

After a few weeks of tilling 10 minutes a day, I was missing my car keys, several fillings, my lucky silver dollar, my Medic Alert bracelet and my cell phone. But at last the garden was ready for planting. Let the savings begin.

Over the next week, I spent 10 minutes a day planting bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, zucchinis, cukes and six different kinds of squash. Squash keeps for a long time, you can eat it all winter long. The weather was great, I planted and played golf every day. This is so easy. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. Plus I’m getting close to nature, seeing where our food comes from, the earth and the sun. Being out in the fresh air, it’s wonderful, it’s living out loud. I didn’t know what I’d been missing all these years.

Suddenly my garden took off. The plants seemed to double in size overnight. The bigger they got, the more water they needed. Now I was spending 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening watering. That still left plenty of time to play golf.

Sue has long hated golf. “Are you goofing off again, today?” she’ll ask.

“No, I’m playing golf.”

She says, “That’s what I just asked you.”

The next week the plants once again doubled in size. Except, this time, the things that doubled in size were weeds. It was taking two hours a day watering and two hours a day weeding to keep the garden in shape. That still left plenty of time for golf, but my back hurt and I was tired all the time. I had to cut back. Why did I plant so many tomatoes? Who will eat all this cilantro? What am I going to do with a few hundred bell peppers? The zucchinis are like magic beans, they grow from an inch to a baseball bat overnight. Why did I plant 10 of them? One plant could feed a family of six for three months. I can’t play golf anymore with this back pain. I can’t afford the membership anyway.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2009, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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