Saturday, May 22, 2010

Owned by Machines

Arrived from Providence a few days ago, and after unloading and doing some chores I've had a chance to get back into the gardens, chiefly observing and planning, although I did some rototilling today and spent yesterday morning re-potting tomato seedlings, and weeding with the wheel hoe. It's warm and dry, a nice window to get beans into the ground, earlier than usual. At this time of year the ground is usually wet, the rains keep it so, and planting is difficult; but the season is advanced by a week or ten days, most of the blossoms have fallen from the apple trees, and I plan to get edamame soybeans, dry beans, and snap beans into the ground over the next couple of days. The onions have broken the surface, as has some of the lettuce and the ever-reliable arugula. The beets and spinach and chard are slower, as are the potatoes I planted a few weeks ago. 

More people are growing vegetable gardens these days, partly in response to economic hard times. The idea is that home-grown food costs less, and that is true amortized over time, labor not counted in the dollar equation; but the startup and maintenance of a garden can be costly, particularly if you invest in soil improvements, fence, and various garden tools and machinery such as a rototiller. If the idea of rural living on some acreage becomes attractive, gardening is but one part of it; you'll likely wind up deciding you need a pickup truck, a snowplow or snow blower, a chainsaw, a sickle bar mower, a bush hog, and a tractor. The more machines you have to work with, the more your time is taken up with maintenance; the machines teach you a lot, but they also seem to own you rather than the reverse. In this way country life can become a full time job, if you let it; and when it does, the pleasures of a life close to nature recede.

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