Everybody is crazy for gardening around here in Northern California Wine Country. It started even before Michelle Obama’s victory garden and it seems to be gaining steam. This morning at coffee folks were actually talking about how paying $120 for tomato cages is a good deal. (Yeah, if you are Donald Trump.) Some of my more upscale urban friends are even hiring someone to teach them how to grow vegetables in their new garden patch. They don’t cook; they didn’t even have a garden patch ’til last week, but now, hey, are growing their own food, for god’s sake. Times must be tough.
Actually, it is rather romantic and patriotic to think about the good food you can get from the soil under your feet. We care about the soil the grapes come from for our wine, and we hear it is healthier to eat organic fruit and veggies grown locally. So veggie gardens in our yards, instead of water-hungry lawns, seem like an ideal summer project. The trick (as always) seems to be how to keep it simple—hence the heated discussion over tomato cages. And that’s before you even get to the war against snails and earwigs.
I have a Darwinian approach; no designer equipment or pricey sprays. The toughest will survive. But admittedly, we have a pretty fancy watering system in our sunny patch. The best news is that gardening is darn good exercise, especially the bending over and digging. Personally, I love the digging. It is therapeutic—digging down to the essence of the thing, beyond the surface. Yes, I’m odd. But a friend, who spends hours on the computer for work, loves the rototilling part—exposing all the soft, fertile earth, getting rid of the offending rocks. I think everyone can your their own favorite part of the garden experience. It might be the wine, goat cheese, fruit and crackers you enjoy as you rest your back and savor the results of your labor. For some reason, a gentle wine—maybe a Sauterne or Chardonnay—seems to do the job. Also, a friendly Merlot may not be trendy, but it’s pretty good with garden veggies tossed on the grill with a bit of olive oil and garlic. We hit the local farmer’s market for greens and squash and onions while we wait for our own gardens to produce. And a semi-warn weekend is all we need to fire up the grill and pull out a few vintages that we’ve been saving.
Cheers to tomorrow’s tomatoes!