Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mistake not punished

I didn't believe last week that we were going to have a serious snow storm. After all, we had already had enough snow for one winter. Furthermore, "my" radio stations were predicting only a light dusting. I did have the foresight to dig enough carrots last Tuesday for several days, but I didn't bother to close the cold frames. My poor babies! How could I? How were they doing under this snow?

Friday I went out and tried to budge the lids. No way. They were frozen in the slightly open position. Some of the heads that I could see through the slit weren't too bad, but anything under the opening was, of course, completely snow-covered. I shoveled and pushed what snow I could off the top of the cold frame out of which I am regularly picking dinner.
It was tricky to do with the lid at a slant while trying to avoid pushing more snow into the garden below. After the other snow storms I've had a flat surface where it was much easier to first push the major snow off and then brush the remainder.

Saturday I could move the lids, and I saw that disaster had not hit. Even some of the 2" lettuce plants were still standing tall. Two heads of Chinese cabbage looked near dead, and I cut them for eating what was edible. However, the biggie in the back, hard to reach, was doing just fine. It would be okay to harvest Sunday morning and show off at the ethical eating fair, although to pick it I would have to walk inside the cold frame, which I don't do except on special occasions.
Meanwhile, inside during the snow I was having a remarkable case of potting soil lust. I need far more potting soil this winter than previously, partially because I've decided not to buy any this year, but mostly because I started seeds so early and now have tomato and collards plants outgrowing their homes. One can't get top soil or compost from under a foot of snow!

Yesterday, I dug more carrots, and then easily dug a lasagna pan of top soil from that bed. Getting compost was another matter. WHERE was it under the snow? Fortunately, I guessed right, and was able to dig a decent amount to take inside. Next year I must remember to put bags of leaves on top of easily diggable compost, both to mark the place and to keep it unfrozen. My new gardening patterns mean that I need potting soil when it isn't trivial to acquire.
Sunday morning I took my one-foot-plus Chinese cabbage and went off (with hand-outs) to the ethical food fair. It was a delightful, glorious fair with many congenial people, both old friends and new recruits to my message. One aspect made me uncomfortable, and I've decided to share my discomfort in my compulsive effort to improve the world. The children were wonderful. I met a surprising number of not-full-grown, respectful people with whom I had interesting conversations.
However, the full-sized people had an amazing predilection to try to touch my beautiful Chinese cabbage. I felt like I was fending off a group of oversized toddlers. "That's my food! Don't touch it!"
I mentioned the experience to a friend, and she said this is common behavior in supermarkets. People touch the vegetables, even those they won't buy! Since Fred and I don't buy groceries, we don't know present customs about such things.
My friend added that she had been upset this week by a related incident. A customer decided at the check-out counter that she did not want to buy a bagel she had put in her order. The clerk threw it into the garbage, saying it was illegal to do anything else with it. My friend thought of all the hungry people nearby who would have enjoyed that bagel.

I said, "You mean it is illegal to sell a bagel that someone has touched, but it is customary for people to paw over the vegetables?"
I find myself reflecting that the fact that neither Fred nor I have had a cold (or flu) in the past three years. It might not be entirely due to our healthy lifestyle, including fresh organic food. How much are widespread infectious diseases due to customs in our supermarkets? The sharing of germs on vegetables? Should we be rethinking such customs?
Thoughtfully yours,

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