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Saturday, April 14, 2012

I could use that


Wherever I am, I don't feel right if I'm not growing something.

I think I got this from my dad, who foraged, fished, hunted, farmed, gardened, planted orchards and vineyards, and brewed and bottled wherever he has lived, until, a few years ago, he simply had to leave off.

He tells me I will come to the same, and shakes his head over the photos of our home place, and I know he is right. But, for now, the itch is on, and I must scratch.

There are few reminders here, now, of all the homesteading he'd done in his ninety-four years. There are the two nectarines, which have set fruit, a fig and loquat that aren't yet in season, and an orange tree, which has been heavily damaged by the freezes of the last few years, as well as the persistent droughts.

But it has oranges.

They're brown from the heavy frost that hit just days before our record run of hot weather that began in February. But still good. And I found my mom's old electric citrus squeezer. So I'm having a tall glass of yard-fresh orange juice, sometimes spiked with a neighbor's grapefruit, every day.

This sort of thing leads to exploring for garden tools and idle soil.

We're in a prohibitive irrigation ban at present which will last through at least August, with a lot of forest fires in the state, so I can't envision trying to revive the last garden, on the south side of the house (where the fig tree lives). But there is a narrow bed alongside the carport, which, when I got here, was full of thistles and the remains of some kind of invasive vine which had climbed everything in sight.

I cleared all this away, walked off with some neighborhood curbside bags of live-oak detritus (for mulch and soil amendment), sifted through the almost pure sand with a busted five-tined fork, then set out a few things: heirloom potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, basil, cilantro, so far. My mom had all of two household plants, and I moved these out into the bed to keep the veggies company.

What with what my British friends call a "hosepipe" ban more or less in effect, I plan to capture any rainwater I can (it's almost devoid of radioactivity here at present, unlike Oregon's) and haul greywater to the bed whenever I'm here.

There's a chance I won't actually be here to harvest any of this. But that doesn't matter. It looks kind of nice, which can't hurt property values, and it makes a statement. In a world in which food is increasingly the province of absentee owners whose only real interest is short-term monetary profit, anarchist veggies must look to any unregulated corner they can liberate.

If I don't pick these tomatoes, the next-door neighbor lady surely will. As she does so, I know she will say a little prayer for me.

I admit I could use that.

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