Home Grown Wisdom


My proper Bostonian mother taught me never to bring up politics or religion in mixed company. I have done both and am a sadder but wiser gal.  What Mom forgot to mention was to never, ever talk about vegetable gardening. 

The discussion can quickly come to a boil.

Just the other evening, the conversation with friends turned to vegetable gardening. It seems the pack I run with all have decent sized vegetable gardens and they are prouder of their produce than their grandchildren. 

I just sat back and listened to all the bragging about watermelons – “I swear, those were the biggest watermelons in the county and the seeds were the perfect spitting size.” and “I know the exact moment a watermelon is ripe because I have the magic thumpin’ thumb.” 

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. No matter, I don’t grow watermelons. What I did learn from just listening was there are three distinct vegetable gardener personalities. 

The Obsessive Early Planter
This is usually a man, though I know a few women like this. An OEP’s entire life is dedicated to having plants in the ground before anyone else. The goal is to have bragging rights for the first tomato produced in the county.  

An Obsessive Early Planter ignores freeze dates and plants in the dead of winter. They watch the temperatures like a hawk and spend most of their time covering and uncovering their tender vegetation.

I tried this planting method last year. Know what happened? My first set of tomato plants froze to death, the second set got pummeled by hail and the third set turned out just fine. I spent so much money on tomato plants; it would have been more cost effective to just buy a couple of bushels of Romas at the Overpriced Grocery Store. I’m now officially a laid back planter.

The Fanatical Biggest Grower
It’s all about big with this gardener and the bigger the better. They actually weigh their produce to make sure of bragging rights. “I swear, last year I had a cantaloupe that weighed in at 12.7 pounds. We ate on that thing for 2 weeks.”

The FBG is secretly dumping gobs of fertilizer on their plants. The result? Cantaloupe and watermelon that glow in the dark.

I’m of the mind that the bigger the vegetable; the more you’re giving the bugs to eat. I mean, if I was a bug, I’d head to the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet, wouldn’t you?

The Neurotic Perfection Producer
I’ve never grown the perfect vegetable – you know the one you see in the cookbook that doesn’t have a blemish one. If it’s got a bad spot, I just cut it off. Not so with the NPP. No blemishes are allowed in their gardens. “I built trellises for my butternut squash. As the vines grow up and the squash sets, I encase each one in pantyhose so that they never touch the ground.”

I haven’t seen a pair of pantyhose on a woman in this county in 5 years, but I’ve seen them on plenty of squash. Thankfully, vegetables don’t wear heels.

 Me? It doesn’t matter if it’s the first, the biggest or the prettiest. I simply can it and display in the kitchen. Makes me look like the hardest working gardener of all.

Mikie Baker

Copyright Medina Mikie, Ink. 2011

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