My garden, my way

I just hit a major milestone in life: I turned 75. Life is good. I feel great, eat absolutely anything I want and drink expensive wines. I still take 6-mile walks. The only person I listen to about how to live my life is me. Why moderate now?

I once challenged, in writing, “health-food diets,” risking great peril from my wife and her friends, who believe just eating veggies will make you live forever.

Alas, I’m a meat-and-potatoes guy. For my indiscretion, I was exiled to my bedroom for a week with no TV. Fortunately, I was allowed yard privileges and could go out to our small garden. It’s one of my favorite places on Earth.

The autumn solstice has passed: days are shorter, evenings cooler. But it’s the perfect time of year to sit outside with a glass of chardonnay and enjoy music flowing out an open window. In the eastern sky, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are visible. If you watch carefully, you can follow Draco the Dragon moving up between the Dippers, Big and Little. The full moon is never prettier than now.

We had a good garden this year. Tomatoes are still on the vine, although they take longer to ripen. So long as they remain, my morning breakfast will be a giant bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich on toasted dill rye bread with a big glass of ice-cold whole milk.

The peppers, melons, cucumbers, pole and bush beans are gone. In their place is a winter garden of beets, snap peas and carrots.

And no, I don’t eat this stuff—I just grow it.

Friends ask how our vegetables grew so big—the caged tomato plants are 10-feet tall; the poblano peppers, 7 feet. My answer: “Better living through chemistry.”

Yes, that means commercial fertilizers. My daughter-in-law, organic in all things, is aghast. I’m in the perpetual doghouse with her.

I tried to figure out the difference between organic and nonorganic food. It turns out there is no difference. Buying organic makes people feel good; they’re willing to pay premium prices. It’s market-based capitalism at its best.

I don’t have a smelly, fly-drawing compost bin for green waste. In the spring, I’ll plant a new garden using commercial fertilizers. Knowing the grief I can expect from my daughter-in-law, perhaps I should build a bigger doghouse.