Monday, May 21, 2012

A Girlfriend's Guide to Urban Farming

Step #1: Decide on a whim that you have GOT to plant some veggies in your backyard.  Because life will be incomplete if you don't.  Because all of your friends are reading "Farm City" and planting gardens and getting chickens and beehives these days.  Because you live near Berkeley, CA and as such, if you don't have a garden, you are obviously giving in to The Man and God forbid you pay even a penny more to Big Ag until those assholes stop getting subsidized for feeding us rubbish. 

In my little happy home, we've decided to plant some corn (oh, the irony), zucchini, cilantro, eggplant, basil, onion, and artichoke.  And after we planted the artichoke, we realized that those suckers grow to be about 6 feet tall, so we anticipate having to kill this thing sooner rather than later before it overpowers everything else.  I've also been informed that my zucchini will take over what little space I've already given it and screw the rest of my veggies.  Let this be a lesson to you all: do your research before hitting the store, because the excitement and shoppers high will have you thinking you can fit acres of crops into your one tiny garden plot.  Sadly, that is not the case. 

Step #2: Insult your boyfriends manhood (a delicate euphemism) to such an extreme that he finally decides he's Bob Vila and builds you "that damn garden box" just to shut you up.  This is best done when you're already in Home Depot, and can subtly rag on him for looking so completely out of place in the Maniverse that is the lumber aisle.

To my credit, I started doing this unintentionally.  I grew up with a dad and uncles who could do or fix or build anything.  A porch, a house, a car, dog kennels, and yes, even a garden box.  There were always tools, oil rags, paint cans, shovels, you name it, we had it on hand.  This is what I know.  I'm comfortable in that world -- so much more comfortable there than I am around guys in three piece suits.

But Nate generally doesn't fit this profile, at least not to the eye.  He doesn't have tools, I've never seen him build something (other than a computer), and he's more academic than he is construction worker.  I love that about him, obviously, but it gave me some doubts when it came to this project.

Well, he showed me and now I doubt no more.  See?  I'm growing.  Our relationship is evolving.  We're mature adults now.

A tip from your friendly neighborhood garden box builder: Use redwood.  It is apparently the only wood in the known universe that will never, ever, ever decay. 

Step #3: Build the box, dig the earth, get the compost, and plant the food.  Fence those suckers in so your dog doesn't poop on them or dig them up, too.  Give your boyfriend a thank-you kiss, then tell him you were wrong about his carpentry skillz and that you're now thinking of hiring his manliness out for a little extra cash.  Give him another kiss when he tells you you're crazy and threatens to leave you.

Then take pictures of all your hard work so that you can brag to your friends and anyone else who will listen.

Step #4: Begin calling yourself an Urban Farmer.  Because calling yourself a gardener reminds you too much of that elderly woman from your childhood who killed your rabbit when she fed him more of her fresh cabbage than his little body could stand.  (Whyyyyy, Mrs. Kawasaki?)

Oh, was that just me?

Twiddle your thumbs for weeks while you wait to harvest.  Then invite all your friends over for a garden farm party and eat the fruits of your labor.

Bon appetit!

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