Teaching a Brit to talk Texan.
I mentioned a book that I’m enjoying the heck out of, The Kitchen Garden.
It’s large, it has glossy, beautiful photographs, it has useful information about planting and pests and such, and it’s a joy to handle. This shouldn’t surprise me since it’s published by DK, and the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are some of most beautiful and helpful around.
Of course one of my problems has been finding a planting guide or calendar for where I live. Back in the day, you just called your County Extension Agent and they mailed you one. So I figured forward in this day, you’d go to the County Extension Agent’s website and they’d have that info online.
I’m the first to admit a disconnect in the logic-function of my brain, but if there is such a list, I didn’t find it.
So I emailed the County Extension Office and asked for such information. Never got a response. This seems like an easy task, you know, the kind of info that should be all over the place, available, but I couldn’t find it.
I checked out local garden blogs and they have been helpful, but not a complete answer.
A friend suggested that I go to Amazon and look up Texas+vegetable growing, and of course, books popped up. Lots of them.
Here’s the problem. A lot of them come out of the Texas A&M program, either directly or through graduates. Sorry, Monsanto U, but I don’t trust your advice. I like Aggies, but you keep strange company. I could go on, but you can google, too.
If not wanting my supermarket veggies sprayed with Roundup to kill weeds but not the genetically-modified seed Monsanto sells to farmers makes me a difficult, then so be it. If wanting food in this country labeled to show that it has been genetically modified for such a purpose makes me a a bit too picky for my own good, so be it. If being a member of Millions Against Monsanto makes me a a fanatic that doesn’t trust international corporations to put my health above their profits, then, there ya go.
And by the way, it turns out the Aggies are the ones teaching Texans to garden. Joy, joy. Would you like some Roundup in your coffee, diazinon in your tea?
I did not set out to bash A&M. I like Aggies, seriously, like them, and frankly, have always trusted veterinarians from A&M above all others. But this Monsanto connection is evil.
Okay, moving forward. Then we get to the books by Neil Sperry, who is from all reports the nicest guy in the world. I’ve heard him speak about quilting–he is a quilter among other things–and his joy in beauty and creativity is contagious. His work with addicted teenagers is touching and admirable, and there is just nothing to dislike about this guy.
Except that he is chemical-addicted, himself, when it comes to gardening. So even though Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening is the fourth-best-selling hardcover gardening book in American history, I find myself hesitating to make it my go-to book. (I do have my dad’s old copy.)
The obvious choice for me is anything by Howard Garrett. The Resident Storm Chaser and I have been listening to his radio show for decades. The thing that has slowed me down is he constantly mentions the various things in his books that need updating. He chuckles that back when he wrote this book or that one, even HE thought doing A or B was correct, and now he advises against it. He talks about his ongoing efforts to update them, and all the notes he’s keeping, and I thought, well, okay, I’m not buying one of the older books when he’s about to update them.
Except, he’s been talking about this for a few years so I finally said, screw this, and ordered Texas Bug Book: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which was supposed to arrive yesterday and did not. Oh well, tomorrow will do. And I’ll hand-annotate as needed.
Which is why I like print books for reference instead of digital. I can mark ‘em up.
So, getting back to the pretty. I have decided on several different attempts to create my own Gardening Bible. One, I’ve ordered a Moleskine Passions Gardening Journal (which also should have arrived yesterday, hey, Amazon, whassup?). Without actually seeing it, I am not sure how it’s setup and whether I’ll like it, but considering I usually love Moleskine products it’s a safe gamble.
Also, I looked across the pond to the Brits. Because the Brits have managed this organic gardening miracle for centuries or longer, without an automatic lunge toward Scott’s and Monsanto and such. Plus, they have such a passion for gardening, I thought they might have some diaries/journals/resources I’m not finding here.
And it smacked me between the eyes. Their allotment gardens are much like my Square Foot Gardening except that mine is my own back yard and allotment gardens are community efforts where each person gets their own “allotment” to grow anything anything they want. Small areas used as efficiently and creatively as possible. So I also ordered a book from England, and am now waiting for it to arrive, as well, hoping that its viewpoint and organization with be close to what I need.
But during all this googling and such, I discovered that the author of The Kitchen Garden is a Brit. A highly accomplished photographer and gardener, he has a number of books out. Which explains why my beautiful book doesn’t have the right planting dates in it.
And in the meantime I’m listening to the Texas twang of Howard Garrett on the radio and annotating The Kitchen Garden by hand, or, teaching Alan Buckingham how to talk Texan–in red ink.
How’s that working out for you? This Luddite is slow to that particular transformation.