Sunday, July 20, 2008

Victory Garden becomes e-garden

I may have to rethink the term "Victory Garden." Victory gardens were grown on the home front during WWII so people could supplement the food they could get at the store via ration coupons. It also was an attempt to free up food to go to GIs overseas. We were a much more rural nation then, many more of us were farmers who had their own 60-acre-plus victory gardens.

But movement to the cities had begun. Southerners streamed up from Appalachia and the cotton-growing Delta to make tanks in converted Detroit auto plants. Dust Bowl refugees had escaped Oklahoma and Kansas for southern California and moved from picking fruit as day laborers to defense workers. All these were farm people who knew how to grow tomatoes and corn. So up popped victory gardens. "V" (as in "Veggies") for Victory!

What kind of victory am I looking for in my garden? Victory from salmonella-laced tomatoes? As it turns out, that may have been a false alarm. Victory from rising produce prices? I've already spent enough on plants and containers and water to buy dozens of store-bought kinds, even organic ones. Am I freeing up food supplies for military MREs? Not likely.

A week ago on NPR's Science Friday, hot-shot gardeners Barbara Ellis and Rosalind Crasy talked about e-gardens. Those are environmentally-sound gardens, veggies grown pesticide-free using drip irrigation or "gray water" from sinks and bathtubs. They offered so many tips that I started to take notes and then realized they both had written books. They are long-time gardeners and find themselves on the cutting edge of a green revolution. It's part of a national effort to replace lawns with Xeriscaping and fruit trees and vegetable-bearing plants. It's a trend in the burbs and in the cities, where roof-top gardens not only produce beans and tomatoes, but clean up the air. Green rooftops can cut down the energy it takes to cool the building. And some architects are even planning green high-rises with gardens that cover the entire surface, not just roofs.

Meanwhile, back in the small city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, my tomatoes are growing. I popped a few Gold Currant cherry tomatoes into my mouth yesterday and I tasted the sun. Tomatoes are popping out all over. My German Striped and Zapotec plants are blooming. I am using way too much water on them, as it hasn't rained for a month. So maybe I will continue to label my growing efforts with a small "e" for e-garden.

Next summer, I'm tearing out my grass (the real water hog) and replacing my entire yard with a real E-garden and low-water plants and rocks. Lots of rocks.


mpage225 said...

congrats on the tomatoes Mike. The cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow and quickest to ripen. The recipes I gave you earlier are all natural ones from Jerry Baker who has many books on it. My father in law has used his recipes for some time and has a great lawn and garden. I am getting ready to brew some tobacco juice bug spray. Will let you know how it works.


Michael Shay said...

Bob, don't get any on you, as you may become a tobacco juice bug spray fiend.