Kitchen Garden

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

Onion Plot, May 2, 2022.

It is always upsetting to spade the garden in spring. When I do, it disturbs a world that became stable since the last growing season. One year I found a burrow of rabbits. This year it was a mouse maze under a section of ground cover. As a human gardener I have no choice but to remove the pests. That’s not to mention the microbial empire disrupted by the turn of a shovel. While the spaded garden may resemble a mass-murder scene from the perspective of earthworms and bacteria, in the long term, the garden is better for it. Better for humans, anyway.

I’ve been reading about the Declaration of Independence. Property and the ability to acquire, own, and do what one wants with it as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others was an unspoken aspect of the founding document. Here is the declaration of rights from the second paragraph. Note there is no mention of property.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Declaration of Independence, National Archives.

There were slave holders among the founders. They realized including enslaved humans as part of “all men” who had self-evident rights would have dire consequences for the new republic. In chattel slavery’s peculiar institution, enslaved humans were property without rights. Slave-holding founders were mixed in their views toward slavery, yet the new country assumed slavery would continue to exist after 1776. What may be speculation today, yet seems equally self-evident, is the founders set in motion a process that would lead President Abraham Lincoln to free the slaves. This process of emancipation continues to today. Despite Chief Justice John Robert’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, that racial disparity is not as bad as it was when the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965, and preclearance of changes to voting laws identified by geography no longer applied, the need for racial justice continues.

My plots of garden are more fertile than most of the farmland surrounding us. If I’ve taken to applying composted chicken and turkey manure as fertilizer, my gardening practices are nothing like the chemical-based, Borlaugian agriculture practiced by so many of my neighbors. Any life destroyed by planting the soil in a garden will be renewed and the soil made more healthy.

Despite delays, there will be a garden this year. Already the turnips, peas and beets are germinating in the ground. Inch by inch, row by row. I’m going to make this garden grow. Now if the rain will let up for a few days.

One reply on “Inch by Inch, Row by Row”

Eventually, our garden will get in as well. I’ve taken the broad fork out and started getting soil loosened up. Normally, I’d use our tiller, but with the weather, it may not happen. Either way, things will get done and another crop will be planted.

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