GENERATIVITY AND MASTERING GARDENING SKILLS
Yesterday, February 25th, I picked 15 ripe tomatoes which have been producing since the beginning of this year. I also picked the last gallon of English Peas of the 14 or so gallons produced by one 25’ row. They would have produced more, but the constant weekly rains have raised the water table so high that the roots rotted. Texas Gardener Magazine’s planting guide has said, since I moved here in 2007, that I can’t grow English Peas in South Texas. I have learned mastery skills in growing both Fall and Spring gardens here in South Texas, but the heat and humidity make Summer gardening near impossible. Mastering the task of shelling the peas and pealing turnips was rewarded by my wife’s cooking them for supper.
Also yesterday, I pulled up over 6 garbage cans of 1’-2’ thick weeds that the rains, lengthening daylight, and garden fertility have grown in my 54’x30’ garden. At 77, using a hip support belt, I bent over most of the time before getting on my knees during the last hour. It takes mastery skills in attitude, as well as using gloved hands to stick with pulling up ornery weeds. I have 7 tomato and 17 pepper plants waiting to be planted.
Generativity is the desire to be useful in the elder years, by passing on the mastery skills and knowledge in organic gardening that I learned from my Dad and have added myself. Unfortunately, my son has a small back yard in Houston and my adult grandkids are only now learning to like vegetables.
Generativity also includes my concern for gardening skills, knowledge, and production in the future of our country. Recently there have been reports in the news that large vegetable and fruit farms in California and Florida can’t find enough laborers to pick their fruits and vegetables. Legally imported foreign workers have to be paid a minimum of $12 to $15 per hour. Most teenagers and young adults raised in our towns and cities don’t want to do sweaty manual work. Many of them don’t like vegetables. The prediction is that the limited supply of fruits and vegetables will more than double in price within the next 5 years.
Despite good intended child labor laws, the best time to learn to enjoy manual labor is during childhood. Many teenagers like adolescent Adam view hard manual work as a curse. I want to encourage parents to teach food preparation and cooking skills to their children, in place of teaching them to like fast food. Teach the children how to use the vacuum cleaner, dust mop, washing dishes, and carrying out the garbage by doing it with them. Start a garden area by asking the child’s help in raising flowers and vegetables in a small plot or large pot. Find a community garden that has education sponsors and mentors for young children and teens. Being tired after doing hard sweaty manual labor to accomplish a task can be very satisfying.