Like every other garden blogger out there, I've read Robin's guest post on Garden Rant.
I've also read through posts in response to that post from Colleen, Gina, MBT, Jessica , along with a few others, and Robin's response to the responses (whew!).
After reading the original guest post, I felt as though I'd just been picked on in the school yard because I was wearing hand-me-down bell bottoms instead of those cool new designer jeans I couldn't afford.
Seriously, Walmart tomato cages be damned, have you ever seen them grown in an uglier way than this?
Yes, rightly or not, my feelings were genuinely hurt. And it surprised me. A lot.
A friend asked me why her post bugged me so much when I've been growing veg and flowers for more than forty years and maybe she's been growing for two or three and probably doesn't know what she's talking about - and besides, anyone can put anything on the internet whether they know anything about the subject or not. But, I have great friends who would defend me if I said the sky was purple, so they don't count.
So I sat down to think about it and analyze why this was.
I think I've found the answer, but it isn't a simple one.
I believe vegetable gardeners can be split into many different groups, some individuals overlapping multiple styles.
The elitists (lets not even go there)
The newbies (and weren't we all at one time?)
The ornamentalists (I only grow those because they're cool)
The designers (anything that doesn't look pretty goes)
The truists (my grams/gramps/forefathers did it that way, it's good enough for me)
The scientists (start with the soil)
The budget-wise (It's not what I want, but it's all I'm willing to pay)
The mother-of-inventioners (I have 0 dollars to splurge and will Mickey mouse what I have to)
The crammers (I'll make it all fit)
And I'm sure you could add many, many more.
I overlap into many of those categories. I imagine many will only fit into the same ones as Robin, so will, quite rightly from their perspective, agree with her wholeheartedly. Those that don't, won't. Those that slightly overlap into hers will see some of her points as valid but see red at others.
But what got my panties in a wad was that she's assuming people have endless amounts of time and money to spend on their veg gardens and they all know what they're doing right from the get-go.
I'm sorry to burst her bubble, but a lot of people have none of the above.
Can you picture a single mom of 5 kids with two part time jobs, trying to get the bills paid and the kids fed, worried about a few weeds invading the garden when she's simply trying to get extra, healthy, nutritious food in their diets? Should she not garden at all? Should those children learn nothing about where their food comes from?
Or a disabled person on social security worried about what the neighbors think of them growing in 5 gallon buckets instead of in the ground because they can't bend over that far and can't afford to pay help? Instead, should they simply stare out the window wishing there was a way?
Or someone with every single plant surrounded by chicken wire or some other supposed 'ugly' barrier because the local wildlife decimates everything for the simple reason the neighbor thinks feeding anything with fur is cute? Should they just give up because someone thinks it's ugly?
I think Robin simply needs to walk in other gardeners' shoes for a few miles.
These are my personal facts:
I garden because I have to. No garden, no veg to eat. And yes, it brings me great joy.
I'm far from being any sort of designer.
I can't afford to buy cool garden stuff. Period. I use what I can get my hands on for free, regardless of how ugly it is.
In a nut shell - I do what I can with what I have. This is not a choice.
I've come to realize, sadly, that my way of gardening, and this blog, simply do not fit into the norm. The only place I fit is at the very bottom of the totem pole - the poor gardener.
Although I may have forty years of gardening knowledge to pass along by way of this blog, I probably won't. I certainly wouldn't want to contribute to the decay of the 'perfect' way of gardening or upset someone's sensibilities by suggesting they use buckets and window boxes if they can't bend and can't afford raised beds.
So, until I start feeling a little better about my garden, and myself, I'll let this blog sit silent.
I'll still continue to read and learn from all those great garden blogs because one can never stop absorbing useful things.
Besides, I'll be busy starting seedlings in some very ugly recycled containers.
Happy (ugly) Growing.
Monday, March 22, 2010