Michael Laws: Grow a bloody garden

MICHAEL LAWS
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2013
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Sunday Star-Times columnist Michael Laws: The partners of all criminals should be held liable if they know of their spouse's illegal activities.

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I'm growing a vege garden. I've never grown one before, or rather not since a primary school exercise when some seed company intrigued my principal sufficiently to make a school-wide contest to see who had the greenest thumbs.

Mine was a heroic venture that I'm pretty sure I abandoned and my father completed. Our state housing estate was located on sand and little grew except lupins and buffalo grass. So my carrots, for example, hugged the surface and grew horizontal in their desperate search for nutrients. I still got a certificate. And that was it.

From then on it was the greengrocer and now the supermarket providing my produce. And, despite my income, I often blanch at the prices or the quality, or both. I've noticed a proportional arithmetic in all supermarkets - the fresher the fruit or vegetable, the more expensive it is.

So I acquired an initial sympathy for the poverty promoters who claim that it's too expensive for beneficiaries and lower socioeconomics to eat properly. That no wonder they are (a) fat, (b) not sending their kids to school with lunch, and (c) pigging out on takeaway specials.

And that whole litre of Coke versus litre of milk argument - that its cheaper to buy Coke than give them a good nutritious meal - until you consider: what neurone-deficient nob even thinks like that?

As we all know, there are thousands of parents who can't actually parent. They wouldn't have the first clue, so the educated middle-class beats itself up that the occasional smack on the bum is somehow to blame. Or that by testing kids at primary school, we are setting them up for a lifetime of KFC and Coke guzzling.

When the answer is blindingly obvious. Grow a garden.

Two things have surprised me about my green efforts thus far. It is actually bloody easy. And, two: Gee, the stuff you grow really does taste better. Like you could eat this stuff raw - it's so sweet and succulent.

Admittedly, I'm growing only the basic stuff: peas, beans, tomatoes, salad stuff, broccoli, pumpkins and the like. I deliberately left the spuds out - they do seem like hard work. And there are no carrots, even if they seem supremely easy to grow, too.

I've also noticed that it is a family bonding experience. From the growing, to the watering, to the picking, to the eating. To the killing of the white butterflies, which seems such wonderful sport when carried out with an old badminton racquet.

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I don't profess to be organic and I don't profess to be independent either. But all the free stuff on the internet - from tips about eradicating tomato pests to those wonderful Ukrainian naturist gardeners - is there if you're in any bother. And any terrain, any spare ground will do.

It's just so bloody obvious: if you want to eat well, grow your own. If you're on a benefit, then you have that other great gift. Time. There is no excuse any more.

mlaws@radiolive.co.nz

- Sunday Star Times

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