Crying Over Cucumbers


Until this weekend my garden has been idyllic.  My seedling grew rapidly, with only a few pests and one small weed. The lavender bush even has small purple-tinted buds on its ends despite my over watering. But the star of the show has definitely been my cucumbers. They were the first to emerge from the seed starter and quickly grew sturdy stalks and broad fuzzy leaves. They were perfect…until this weekend.

My family and I were out of town visiting family, and when I returned home, my indoor cucumber plants (not the tomatoes, or eggplants, or basil, or anything else, just the cucumbers) were starting to wither. Some of the stalks had turned a sickly yellow-brown color, and their leaves were dark and crisp.  Quick as I cool I checked the soil moisture and looked to see if the roots were crowded: all was well. What happened?!

I was so upset. At the beginning of this garden, I had anticipated the concept of pests and unexpected frosts and even that the seeds wouldn’t sprout. But I never imagined that my perfectly healthy “babies” would just crunch up and wilt like this…and that I would be so emotionally hurt when they did.

Once I got my wits together and pruned my stalks, I sat on the porch amid my potted garden and looked at the enormous oaks that have towered over my house for decades (and stood strong for countless year before we or anyone else lived here).  If I was so sad about a few 6-inch tall cucumbers turning brown, how would I feel about losing these trees? Or any other trees for that matter?

I knew that growing fresh organic vegetables would improve my health and even my mind. Seeing your nourishment grow at the touch of your own fingertips would surely make you more mindful and gratified by your food and environment. But I never anticipated how much compassion it could instill in the grower.

We as a culture, as a society have such a disconnect from our food. If we buy a cucumber from the store and it grows slimy and rotten in the crisper, we toss it out without second thought (and rightly so, as we would become ill from eating that). But what it you had to throw away your cucumber plant? That you labored over for months? What if you were a farmer in the mid-West, whose entirely livelihood was growing corn for other people to mutate into Doritos and soda, knowing all along that people all move the country and the world were squandering it away and washing it by the bushel?

It may seen like a silly task with very little weight, but growing your own vegetables, as I’ve learned this week, whether it be cucumbers or kumquats, will do you a world of wonder. If more people were to raise at least one of their own food items, we might be able to overturn this culture of waste and ignorance, and in the process make ourselves healthier and more loving people.

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