Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Vegetables have been around longer than we have, you'd think by now they'd have figured out how to grow pretty much on their own. In the wild, they are indeed boss; too much so in some cases - kuzu finds an in and soon takes over. After generations of kitchy-koo domestication, though, the plants we call our vegetables can be a lot like children.

Gardeners must therefore now and then provide temporal guidance to our selectively bred green friends, who in their growth and development are prone to undesired tendencies that can accompany human preferences and require staking, training, shading, netting, fencing, heading, stringing up and so forth. Such guidance, however, should be administered with balanced judgment and tender interspecies diplomacy. You don't want a garden full of offended tomatoes or even worse, peppers. Lettuce, forget about it. 

The other day I spotted my newly emerged Climbing Bean tendrils just hanging around lowdown, looking for green action in an arm-over-the-shoulder kind of way with the Spinach, a family that can be bad company for vegetables that have been bred for higher aspirations.

I know from personal human experience, mutatis mutandis, that lowlifery in the early phase sets a bad precedent, and can tend to restrain upward ambition. If Climbing Beans remain too long in an earth-hugging relationship, they may never regain their full powers, never reach the heights to which their birthright entitles them. So without sounding too elitist about it, I had to take the gangly neophytes aside and, in the gentle language suitable to sprouts, give them good advice without bruising their spirits. 

There's an art to vegetal diplomacy. To the young but unstriving reachers, I said: "Listen here, greenies-- there are a few things you've got to learn about life. First of all, you've got to choose your companions wisely. Don't hang around with the groundhuggers-- no offense to you, Spinach, don't get all bolty. This isn't personal, it's gardening. You do your job well. We love you. You're tasty, you're nourishing, you're beautiful. Keep up the good work..."  (Gardeners often sound like Hollywood agents.) 

"But you, all you young beans, reaching with your tendrils: choose high-reaching companions! At your age, take all the help you can get! See those nets up there? Look for the net overhead and use it. Climb as high as you can and don't look back; grab a stake and keep on reaching! Believe me, the sky's the limit for you youngsters, so go for it with all you've got! You'll be blooming way up there in no time! That's your destiny!" 

And so I went on, a bit over the top, the green young tendrils hopefully hanging on my every word, though now that they've known the ease of Spinach life, I thought it wiser to lash them to the masts of ambition with plastic twists.


vegetablej said...

My morning smile. Thank you!


Robert Brady said...

You're most welcome, vegetablej... always glad to cause a smile!