A celebration of green. Daily Post Photo Challenge | it IS easy being green
I have a small fig tree in my garden. After languishing for several years in a pot, it finally found a new home in the row of fruit trees I like to think of as “the orchard.”
It’s now fig season, and the first few were ripe a couple of weeks ago. Between my noticing this fact and going out to harvest a couple, the birds had already eaten the ripe fruit.
Now I’m a pretty lazy gardener and generally don’t quite get around to making much of an effort to protect my plants. But I love figs, and even in season they tend not to be cheap (around $19.00 a kilo). So I actually went to the garden centre and bought some protective netting. I was expecting it to be quite expensive, but a piece of plastic net, 4 metres x 1 metre cost about eight dollars. That’s enough to protect my figs AND my mandarin tree, which also has ripening fruit that’s attractive to the birds.
I’m so happy! I picked a couple of figs today and they were perfect. But more importantly, I’ve taken a small positive step towards protecting a food crop. And ok, it’s a little tree now – but it’s already way bigger than it was when I replanted it, so in years to come, I can probably expect it will grow even bigger and produce even more fruit.
I’ve been thinking about this small act because it seems a bit symbolic of my changing attitude to food and its production. Since my son was born (aaagh … 15 years ago), I’ve become much more conscious of what’s in the stuff that fills supermarkets. I remember reading Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food, and feeling that I’d found a sort of eater’s Holy Grail in his wonderful, simple mantra:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Now I realise that I’ve become an evangelical gardener; eager to swap stories with other gardeners, and to share the produce that’s flourishing in my two little vege patches. I’m a convert to local, seasonal, home-grown. Hallelujah!
And like many converts, I’ve become a proselytizer; increasingly angry about bad food, uneven access to food, and expecially wasted food.
I’ve written in the past about the plum trees at the end of my street. On public land, their fruit seems to go largely unharvested. Similarly, some friends have a very large fig tree which produces abundant fruit. When I asked a few years ago if I might have a few figs to make chutney – which I offered to share with them- they didn’t say no, but sort of shrugged and told me that all the fruit was eaten by the birds anyway. I remember thinking at the time that netting might be a solution. I guess that’s probably where I got the idea that netting would be prohibitively expensive.
But that’s the thing – it’s not. I reckon that a net big enough for their tree would cost about $20 – or the same as a kilo of figs. I’m not great at judging quantities and weights and stuff, but I think there is more than a kilo of figs on their tree.
To me, this just makes sense. Even if they don’t like figs; other people do (not just me; it’s not naked self-interest now that I have my own tree).
I can feel a bit of a rant coming on, and you didn’t sign up for that when you kindly stopped by this post, so I’ll stop here.
But I can’t help feeling this is something I’m going to keep coming back to.
Ailsa’s “Green” theme (Where’s my backpack) got me thinking about how the word has so many connotations; the colour, the sense of environmental responsibility – and also “green” as in inexperienced. And that got me thinking about my garden.
Even though I’ve owned my house for 12 years and wanted a vegetable garden for about that long, this last year is the first time I’ve had one.
And it’s been wonderful. It’s lush and green – despite the drought in Auckland. It’s great for the environment – food miles have become food metres and my plants thrive on the compost we’ve been creating from household waste.
And although I’m totally “green” as a gardener and have made lots of mistakes (note to self – courgettes take up a lot of space and although they look great, they’re still courgettes), I have also grown a lot of fresh tasty organic food for my family, friends and neighbours.
Finally, if green is the colour of calm, then my garden has achieved another purpose. The time I spend planting and thinning and weeding and just generally pootling around eating the tomatoes and radishes and bell peppers is perhaps the most relaxing time in my life at the moment.