Allow me to suggest a New Year’s resolution you’ll thank me for: Grow your own tomatoes. As you’ll see, becoming a grower can be rewarding far beyond the sweet taste of your crop.
The traditional extra benefits keep bringing many of us back season after season. If you’re a tomato gardener, you know the great feeling of acting directly on nature to produce the food you eat. Raising tomatoes gets you outside and sweating, and usually provides a sense of accomplishment. It encourages discipline, planning, and demands a bit of knowledge and a ton of patience.
And when you finally harvest those juicy edibles and carry them into your home — without once leaving your property — you can almost hear the fife and drums. You’re gripped by a feeling virtually unknown in today’s world: independence. This is what our ancestors fought for.
Any extras you have you can give away or trade with pride. If the haul is sufficiently large you might even can some for off-season. Gardeners everywhere have done this for ages.
In recent years, though, I’ve taken pleasure in what gardening doesn’t involve.
And what it doesn’t involve is the government, at least not in the meddling, bleeding sense. The tomatoes I grow are as valuable to me as money, if not more so, since it’s so hard to find good ones. Yet I have no intention of reporting them as “income.”
I take great satisfaction in not needing a license or any kind of certification to create a garden. I don’t have to join a hoer’s union or seek some bureaucrat’s zoning approval to devote part of my land to raising vegetables. I don’t have to devise, then get blessed, any sort of warning label for my tomatoes. If I get sick when I eat them, tough. If the wage I pay myself is the market value of the tomatoes themselves, then I stand guilty of running a sweatshop. Even the most bountiful harvest doesn’t translate into a living wage.
If bugs are attacking my Better Boys I can kill the pests without having the government jail me for murdering insects.
I always have far more tomato plants than any of my neighbors, yet I live without fear of anti-trust prosecution. They are free to grow more or grow none, as they wish, and I am free to harvest as many of the red devils as I can, or let them all rot if I so choose.
Not one of my tomatoes will be confiscated for “social” needs. I give some to others as an act of volition, not an act of Congress. And I give from a sense of pride, not pity; from a wanting to share, not from a “duty” to serve others.
No official will seize any for some Ponzi social security fraud. If I want to eat my home-growns after my plants have died it’s up to me to can some.
I can limit myself to growing tomatoes of a single cultivar and not worry about charges of racism or lack of diversity. If I choose to grow some of every variety, no beefsteak supremacist can stop me.
I don’t have to tolerate Congressional double-talk on a Gardener’s Bill of Rights allowing me to sue any- and everyone for lousy vegetables. The only right I have is the freedom to grow them or not. If I have a poor crop I can cast blame wherever I want, but nobody’s going to listen except me.
In spite of a friend’s comment that garden-fresh tomatoes are almost as good as you-know-what, there are no interns around to wipe sweat from my brow. The most sensational event of last season was splitting the handle of my shovel when I hit a rock.
Even if you live in an apartment or a condo, you can grow tomatoes in big pots on your deck. Come on, make a real resolution this year. Treat yourself to some good eating while savoring the taste of independence. Snub the tyrants and grow your own.
George F Smith
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