Monday, July 25, 2011

What a summer

First of all, I have to say that today I'm a bit disgusted. A month ago, I had to re-sow our greens for the second time because our beds apparently became the neighborhood litter box. I was angry, disgusted, and disappointed all at the same time. Today, I'm inside reading, and hear the chickens going crazy. The last time I heard them act like that, 2 puppies were out there chasing them; so today I ran out to see. Low and behold, there is a cat (no idea who's) with one dead peep on the ground and another in it's mouth. I yelled at it and it ran off with the one in it's mouth. We *had* three cute little Mille Fluer chicks, and now we have one. I hate how people let their pets outside to do things, then get defensive when confronted with what they destroy. I won't even bother.....what's the point. Sorry folks, just had to vent.

The garden this year is disgusting. Due to the weather, and me not being home as much as I was last year, it's a disaster. First, there was the loss of the greens twice; once from near record rainfall in May, and another from the litter box incident. Our weather has went from excessive rain, to extremely hot and humid, (for Ohio, a week of temps over 100 is abnormal), to cooler (below 60), then back to the heat, and then a downpour last Monday night that dropped 7" of rain overnight.

We lost a few plants to weather and animals like always, but others are just stunted. My normally insane growing green beans are pitiful, and will be pulled and re-seeded sometime this week. Ah I'll be picking beans in October. I have 14 or so beautiful tomato plants out there, and not a single ripe tomato yet. It's the same with the blackberries...hanging full of big beautiful green berries, but not ripening. All we have been able to pick so far from the vegetable garden are cucumbers, peppers, a few handful's of sugar snap peas, and maybe 2 salads worth of greens. While I'm disgusted with the whole thing, I refuse to give up. I'll just replant and go for a later season. I'm not done yet!

I've seen a lot of things in the news lately about home vegetable gardens. Some are good news, and others, well, just aren't. More and more, I see articles, websites, and blogs pop up about people taking control of their own food supply and begin to grow and/or raise their own. As I drive around, I see more gardens than I've ever seen before. It makes me happy to see people doing things like this. Whether it's a few plants in pots, or whether it's a full scale vegetable garden, people are catching on. It's a wonderful thing to see and watch grow in popularity.

Then, of course, there is the other side. There are cities, townships, HOA's, and many other places that have ridiculous rules and regulations against growing your own food. take for example Julie Bass in Oak Park, Michigan, who was being prosecuted by the city, and facing 93 days in jail for having raised beds for vegetables in her front yard. Why? Because the vegetables didn't fit "the norm" for acceptable front yards within the town. Soooo..."the norm" is yet again useless grass, and pointless ornamentals that do nothing but take up space, look pretty, and require care for no other reason than to look at. I've read of similar stories all summer long. One being a church garden,and another about a man in Canada, but Julie's has been the most publicized. Technically, it's illegal here in the township we live in to grow vegetables in your front yard. Why? I have no idea. My best guess is that it again doesn't fit the "norm" for proper front yard attire.

How far have we fallen when growing your own food is seen as either a revolutionary new idea, or as something rebellious? I remember when we first moved here and put in a garden in the back. People drove along the side road staring, as if they didn't understand what we were doing. I came to find out that they did in fact understand what we were doing, but didn't understand why. We were, and still are, known as the crazy hillbilly couple on the corner. I really could care less what people around me think about us or our place. My yard produces food, while theirs produces a bill from the lawn maintenance company and from the guys who spray it 3-4 times a year. My yard give me jams, jellies, sauerkraut, tomato sauce, and eggs; while theirs give them something to stare at from the occasional lawn chair under a tree.

I've posted many times about my hatred of "the lawn". Over the years, I have more and more became aware of how pointless they are. Acres and acres of worthless grass, that get watered, fertilized, mowed, raked, aerated, thatched, weeded, sprayed with pesticides & herbicides, for no purpose whatsoever. If anyone remembers a post I made back in March, I found some staggering numbers on lawns in the U.S.:

"In 2008, the EPA estimated that the area in the United States covered by lawns was bigger than the state of Texas. Can you imagine if that entire area, or even half of it, was used by people to produce their own food? We used close to half of our one acre for growing food last year. Just for example, the area the size of Texas is 172,000,000 acres of land. If just half of that was used (86,000,000 acres) to produce the same 1100 pounds that we managed last year, it could easily be used to produce an astounding 86,000,000 pounds of food"

Now imagine that the area of lawns is the same size, 172,000,000 acres. How much gasoline does it take to keep that all mowed? How much fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides are sprayed annually? I want to look up the figures, but I honestly don't want to see the answers. Just using my own estimates, I'll say that I use +/- 2 gallons of gas in a push mower to mow what's left of our place. So let's just say 1/2 acre, so it could be 4 gallons per acre to mow. If I was mowing that 172m acres, it would take 688,000,000 gallons of gas to mow. Sure that is a VERY rough estimate, but still insane. OK....that number is giving me a headache, so I'll just stop and let you think about it. (that's 34,400,000 full 20 gallon car tanks of gasoline!!!) ok ok ok enough already Chris........

These are the kinds of things that just annoy me and get under my skin. I (among many of you reading) are given grief for using yard space for food production by those who choose to use it for pointless green space. I'm called "hillbilly" or "green hippy" because I choose to do those things. Even my own dad cracks Amish jokes about us having the garden, chickens, and living fairly simple. When will things revert back to the other side? When will they guy with a half acre of grass be the odd one out in the neighborhood? Will we ever see that time? I can't say. I can only dream.

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