23 January 2009

Is there Room Enough for a Little Ego too?

Each time I am out in my little garden, I think about the local farmer's markets. There is a part of me that feels rather elite, and I puff up. I think to myself in a pretentious manner, "Ha! I don't need to go to the farmer's markets because I grow my own food." Like the old Grinch's heart, my ego grows a few sizes bigger. I don't view this growth as a positive thing. I don't like to think of myself as an egotistical person, but it seems that my ego grows at the rate of the tomatoes.

I still visit the farmer's markets though, not because I need to, but because I want to shop with the other local farmers. Let's face it, my ego might be big, but my backyard isn't. I think that I have done an efficient job practicing my version of square foot gardening and meshing companion and interplanting techniques in my sheet mulch garden, but there are only so many things that I can grow. I squish in my family's and my favorites, but with all the diversity and variety in tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, lettuces, beans, carrots...what am to do? There are the big space takers like vining squashes and melons that would leave no room for my five year old to kick his soccer ball without taking out a few prized fruits. The nutrient sucking vegetables, potatoes and corn, zap the soil of nutrients and require more space than the backyard has to yield decent amounts. Living within city limits means no chickens or livestock of any kind. If farmer's markets didn't exist, I wouldn't get eggs, meats and, sometimes, delicious natural milk That's right! Pure milk that's homogenized nor pasteurized. Of course, it's not for me or the family. It is strictly for the pets (wink wink).

Some years, I am forced to squish my ego back into it's box and seal it with duct tape because the luck just ain't happening. Sometimes, I am not so lucky in the garden whether it is due to a bad seed starting year, drought, too much rain, insect problems, disease, the animals digging things up or a variety of issues. There doesn't have to be one specific cause. So with humility in check, I gratefully visit the local farmer's markets who are hopefully having a lucky year. Because you can ask anyone who grows food (novice or veteran), gardening and farming require some skill, knowledge, patience and hard work, but mainly there is a lot of luck involved.

And if it is mainly luck that gets me through, then why the ego trip? The only lame excuse I can throw out there is that I am merely human and, therefore, prone to minor imperfections. But, I need to view ego like the many varieties that my garden can't contain, and leave it out. Luck and humility grow the best crops.

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