How Does Your Garden Grow?

   Written by on January 11, 2018 at 2:57 pm

logo - walk in gardenWell, the next produce shortage has been announced, after citrus from Florida, at least, and that seems to happen every winter. Some expert on NPR this morning told the world that our favorite go-to food for all things nutritious, the humble banana, is facing a fungus crisis.

I feel sure that I’ve written about bananas sometime over the last thirteen years (really, thirteen?), but not having the inclination or time to look it up, I’ll just remind you that the Cavendish is the most popular banana for export, and breakfast and snack consumption. It has been attacked, apparently, by some nefarious fungus which growers seem helpless to eradicate.

So much for the 58-cents-a-pound signs in the stores.

Meanwhile, I’ve been looking at a new seed catalog, this one titled SeedsNSuch, which is a seed supplier in Granite, South Carolina. Having been brought up watching my grandfather plant seeds in his greenhouses every winter, I am particularly interested in all the varieties of tomatoes. But, listen to this: there are 185 varieties of tomatoes pictured, including all the heirloom, cherry, salad and different colors. One hundred eighty-five! And I didn’t even try to match descriptions with pictures…there may be more than that. On top of the ridiculous number to choose from, they have endearing names like Dixie Red Hyb. VFFFNAStswv  and La Roma III Hybrid VFFNA – how in world are you supposed to ask for those seeds down at the feed and seed store, or remember it for that matter? Some names are familiar, like Rutgers and Early Girl and Beefsteak, but then you realize they’ve spent way too much time in the lab producing silly creations called Tumbling Tom and Arkansas Traveler, Warrior, Charger, Mountain Merit, Mortgage Lifter (no kidding) and Sunchocula. You have no idea what you’re getting without a picture book to guide you, unlike old varieties that let you know that Big Boy was a big tomato, and Better Boy was even better.

Ah, life was simpler then, and so were the tomatoes. Are these new so-called improved varieties any better? Who knows, and why are those smart fellows in the plant cross-breeding business wasting their time on something that didn’t need improving in the first place? Red, yellow, pink, full-size, cherry, acid-free…that’s all we ever needed. Even the lowly tomato has been forced to succumb to our more complicated lives these days.

Flipping through the remaining pages in the catalog, I spotted other anomalies like a zinnia with petals of five different colors, black kale, peppers with hair-like growths on the outside, and a pepper shaped like a part of the human anatomy which shall not be mentioned. They don’t seem to have messed with potatoes or watermelons any more, thank goodness. I can still go to the grocery store produce section and select some things without having to read the descriptions on the shelves to know what I’m getting.

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