One of the many things gardening has taught me is patience. Planting seeds, watching them sprout, transplanting them to the garden, waiting for the plants to produce their bounty - it all takes time. The harvest can’t be rushed, no matter how badly I want to taste that first ripe tomato!
We live in an instant gratification, I want it now society that has forgotten that the best in life often comes by waiting patiently. The fast food movement is a good example. I’m not talking about McDonalds or Wendy’s or Sonic. I’m talking about the movement that brought fruits and vegetables into our grocery stores in the dead of winter, shipped from thousands of miles away to satisfy our need to have the best of summer even when there’s snow on the ground. The problem is most of what gets sold as “fresh” has been in transit for days and is way past its prime by the time it gets on the grocery store shelves. Many things have to be picked green in order to survive the trip. Did you know that a whole new variety of tomato has been developed just for grocery stores? It stays green for months and only turns red when it’s gassed. That’s why those grocery store tomatoes are hard as gourds. They only look ripe. They’re really green tomatoes gassed to look red.
From the phone calls we get at The Garden Market, I can tell that there are folks out there who have forgotten that fresh, off-the-farm vegetables have a season. If you plant tomatoes, green beans, squash, melons and cucumbers before the last frost, the plants will die. If you plant eggplant and peppers before the ground warms up and the weather gets hot, they won’t produce. Sometimes even seasoned gardeners get in a hurry, lured by those early warm spring days into thinking that the danger of frost is past. Then along comes that late frost that catches them and they have to start over. I have to admit, though, it is hard to resist the tomato plants sold early at big box stores and the local feed store!
There is a “new” movement that seems to be catching hold as people become more concerned about their health and about what’s really in their food. It’s called the “Slow Food Movement.” But it really isn’t new. It’s a return to buying what’s grown locally when it’s in season. It’s a return to waiting patiently for that first fully ripe tomato that drips juice and seeds off your chin as you bite into it fresh from the garden. It’s the crisp snap of green beans just picked off the vine. It’s visiting your local farmer and seeing where and how the food is raised. It’s knowing that what you’re eating has been raised with love and care – and knowing that chemical fertilizers and herbicides haven’t touched the soil or the plants or the produce that’s offered for sale.
I am encouraged by the news that there will be a garden at the White House again. I’m encouraged that children have been invited to help plant, tend and harvest the garden and that they’ll get to prepare what they’ve grown. What wonderful life lessons they will learn while digging in the dirt along side the First Lady, the President, and their children! While they’re digging in the dirt they will be getting fresh air and exercise, not watching TV or playing video games. And hopefully, along the way, they’ll learn to wait patiently for the good things in life as they watch that first tomato turn red on the vine.
The Garden Market @ HoneyBear Ranch Broken Bow, OK