Thursday, June 02, 2011

My Victory Garden: Growing food along with political opinions

Pumpkin flower
My 2011 Victory Garden has finally been planted.

It took awhile. Sprinter (Spring/Winter) lingered, giving us lots of cold temps, snow, hail and rain. The moisture was welcomed. But the cool temperatures put a hold on seedling planting.

The tomato seedlings were the last to go into the ground. I grew them from seed and they are several inches high. Last year I bought my seedlings at the Master Gardeners Show at the Depot Plaza and had them planted by May 15. So I’m a bit behind schedule.

It’s tough for a big slicing tomato to reach maturity before the snow and cold hit the fan in mid-September. So it’s Cherries and a few Romas this year. The household’s vegetarian will be happy. Me too.

In February, I picked up seeds for pumpkins, watermelon and cantaloupe. I grew seedlings and placed some in some sunny spots. I don’t have much hope for them. But the seedlings look great. Little green ears sticking up out of the dark soil.

I can’t feed my family from this modest garden. The point is to grow some of my own. I trade for some and then buy the rest at farmer’s markets. I have been eating healthier since I returned to gardening. When I cook out, I use my herbs to make marinades. I throw together salads with the stuff that’s ripe. Steam some broccoli or green beans. Something about fresh foods satisfies me enough that I’m not wrapping up a meal with ice cream or pie. Most of the time.

I’m not out to prove that residents of Cheyenne, Wyoming, can be dedicated locavores. But we can be moving toward locavorism (word?). Important to make the effort.

Gardening is a great conversation starter. Mashable recently featured in infographic about differences in attitudes toward food between Liberals and Conservatives. More than 39 percent of Liberals said they were “foodies.” More than 52 percent of Conservatives couldn’t describe what a “foodie” is. Go to

I’m not as interested in being a foodie or even defining "foodie" as I am in eating good food. Liberals and Conservatives are probably more likely to meet over food in Wyoming than in, say, Colorado, land of food incubators and CSAs and vegans and craft brewers. My neighbors in Cheyenne are fundies and Mormons and gearheads and railroad workers and military and white-collar gubment folks like me. During summer get-togethers, we speak about sports and kids and food. Politics gets us nowhere. None of us are giving up our deeply-held beliefs. I really understand this election season. I’m the one with a forest of signs for Democratic candidates in my yard. Obama signs were as rare as orchids in November 2008. I expect that they will be even more rare next year.

So I grow my food and grow my beliefs, watering them and fertilizing them with equal amounts of hope. Come harvest time, I will be sharing more food than opinions. At least in the public square. This digital realm is another thing altogether.

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