Thanks to everyone who commented. I was somewhat surprised at the unanimous judgement that running a decent vegetable garden is a lot of effort and doesn’t even yield free food.

Adam I agree about the problem of gluts. Our fruits were pretty staggered but even so . . . And the expense of putting up fruit and vegetables.  I’ve always vaguely wondered why Americans (at least so I read) canned vegetables and we never did.  I think probably there were two reasons.

First, we could just about squeak fresh vegetables through the winter though by April my father expressed everyone’s view when he said he yearned for something green.  I don’t think that would have been so easy in the northern United States.

Second, the equipment for canning vegetables was pretty expensive.  We canned (bottled) fruits but because they were in syrup it did not need a pressure cooker or even lots of jars.  A special order went in to the grocer in the nearby small town for large quantities of preserving sugar.

And for jam we never, ever bought jars.  Every possible jar (and there were not many bought jars because we did not buy things in jars) was saved and the collection grew over the years.  I recall on a discussion list someone asking who would hoard old jars?  Well, the entire British population post World War II, that’s who.  Frantic visits to relatives when you ran out of jars. The jam was topped by a bit of wax paper.  If some mold grew, well we scraped it off.

And choice, Laura, Karen, Kay, and Cindy is something I have thought about a lot.  Almost anything (including as Laura points out, husbands and children) takes time and space.  So my feeling about gardening is if it gives you pleasure or it is necessary take the time to do it properly.  But we are lucky to have the choice of not doing it, something my mother would have dearly loved. I don’t vest having a garden with great moral punch.  And that’s lucky because I have just moved too much in my life to ever have the garden I simply assumed I would. I’m currently self sufficient in ginger, bay leaves, limes, lemon grass and a few other herbs and the curry tree is coming along nicely.  But batting between two cities means it’s just not worth growing vegetables and most fruits.

Which leads me to a bit of a puzzle, Ji-Young, about school gardens.  I can see they make sense to teach children something about where food comes from in California with its long growing season.  But if you are in the northern US then school vacations coincide with the most active garden time (and not coincidentally I assume).  So what do the children see?  Seeds going in the ground.  Then the second part of harvest?   But your points about serious policy versus rhetoric are very well taken.

And Maria, you probably have the best garden of the lot of us.  I love reading about it.  And no chemicals is a tough road.  I don’t even think it’s the right road but me might disagree about that.

Finally, that was one lucky peacock.  I’ve never tasted peacock, unlike you Adam, but had I been older and a food historian I might have prevailed on my parents to kill it.  As it was, no one ever turned up from some local stately home to collect the thing though we put the word out. And no one had the heart to wring its neck.  So yes it made an awful noise.  And it got the best of the young plants all too often.  But it did look rather stunning with the petals drifting down from the apple trees.

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