2014-01-13

Home Laboratory

While several of my family members are passionate gardeners, to me it just feels like housework. This likely stems from the fact that when I was growing up in my parents' house, watering the flower garden and taking care of the fruit trees in the back yard was housework. These tasks were things I had to do in order to earn my weekly allowance. It was a hateful necessity, something I loathed doing, mostly because it was work that was otherwise keeping me from play.

Others in my family may have grown into (pun intended) their love for gardening out of exposure to my grandfather, a passionate farmer beloved by all his grandchildren. Perhaps they love gardening in memory of him. Perhaps there is a genetic component to it, passed down through mitochondrial DNA. (Or, is that supposed to be passed down maternally? I forget now.) Or, perhaps gardening is a common hobby, beloved the world around, an indelible part of the human experience tied to the survival of our species. Maybe they just like being outside, in the elements, alone with the plants, alone in their thoughts.

Whatever the case may be, the gardening bug never "took" with me. I simply don't like it.

What I like is pretending to be a mad scientist, and seeds can feel a lot like alchemy. You collect the most annoying part of your breakfast, put it in potting soil, and after some time it starts to fill the room with oxygen and makes things look more inviting. How can you not love a tree?

The cost for all of this is a few dollars' of potting soil acquired on a weekly trip to Wal-Mart, plus the time it takes to wash out an old pickle jar so that your apples don't end up smelling like brine. In short, with some nutrient-rich soil and stuff you would either throw away or put down your garbage disposal, you can have a working orchard of trees growing all over your house. If you decide you like them, put them in the ground. If not, throw them out or compost them.

Either way, the idea of being able to re-purpose garbage and table scraps into a pleasant contribution to a fine home ambiance - perhaps while wearing a white lab coat, tossing one's head back and belting out a nice, "MOO-HOO-HA-HA HAAAA!" as lightning crackles in the background - Is something that brings a little joy into the small spaces of my life that might otherwise be filled with channel-surfing.

What if the seeds don't grow? Who cares? I'll just plant more. I buy apples on a weekly basis; my supply of apple seeds is near-endless.

What if the trees die before they mature? Not important. First of all, I have too many young trees growing around my house already. Second of all, I'll just plant more.

What if they turn out to be crab apples? I don't understand the question, because it seems to imply something negative about something I view as a positive.

The experiment continues. At some point, I should assemble a photo-tutorial for growing table scraps in pickle jars.