How About Some Respect for Plants?

I came home yesterday afternoon to find my husband carefully hand watering the food gardens. Why. They weren’t really dry, and I didn’t ask him to water them. Frankly, if he’s outside on a nice summer afternoon, he’s usually puttering around the boat and leaving the garden irrigation to me.

Then I saw it: beautiful summer squash ripe for the picking that had appeared virtually overnight (as squash will do). Summer squash is his favorite. It was perfectly clear that he had suddenly felt a rapport with the food gardens, a rush of paternal instinct that only comes over him when the summer squash arrives. He’s a riot.

So, for the record for 2017, we started pulling veggies from the food gardens on June 28, starting with summer squash. This is good considering the cold, wet spring we endured.
The patchouli plants have survived their first 48 hours with me. Don’t laugh: the first few days sometimes tell the whole story. They don’t look great, but they’re alive, and it’s on that hope that I’m going to work to help them thrive.

I was thinking last night about how the growing popularity of home gardening, while having great benefits, comes with a price.

Every bargain retailer, from Wal-Mart to Home Depot to supermarket chains to junk outlets like Job Lot, are all selling plants now. These are enterprises with no awareness of and no concern for plant care. They buy big lots of commercially-produced plants of questionable cultivation, arrange them on store displays, and then forget about them.

I often see these poor plants in horrible conditions, gasping for water or drowning in it, or plagued with insects, with shade plants on display and desiccating in the sun and sun-loving plants eclipsed by shade. In a few weeks, the nearly-dead plants are marked down by 50 percent, then 75 percent, piled carelessly on clearance racks. If they’re not sold, they’re trashed. It’s a pitiful sight.

Like everything else offered by big box retailers, these plants - like factory farm animals - are mass produced with little to no quality control and no concern for their welfare. The bottom line is earnings. Just like the made in China garbage items at Wal Mart, Job Lot, and the Christmas Tree Shop (YUUUCK!), these plants exist to amplify the wealth of greedy corporate chiefs. Plants have become the latest victims of our throw-away culture. And you better believe that it makes me mad.

These little patchouli plants are a good example. Patchouli plants are rare in these parts, so it’s smart of the nursery that sold them to find them wholesale, and offer them for retail sale. After all, you find all the exact same varieties of plants at Wal Mart, Job Lot, supermarkets, and the like. They all buy from the same distributors. There’s zero imagination and inspiration involved. It’s a big yawn.

The retailer that offers something different is smart. But if the same retailer can’t be bothered with the plants’ care once they’ve arrived, that tells me a lot: they’re no better than the Wal Marts of the world. Smart they may be, but they’re not kind. They don’t know anything about plants, don’t care about them, and have no business selling them.

Plants experience life - science is always discovering more about plants’ amazing sensibilities. Like animals, they are not insentient commodities and should not be treated as such by humans. Commercializing their existence is unfair, unkind, and will one day come back to haunt us all. So how about a little respect for plants?

Well, I got that off my chest and I feel a little better. But I’m still mad about it.

The weekend is almost here! I’m feeling some beach action, boat action, sun action, gardening chores, watermelon sorbet, cuddle time, incense burning, music (the summer Carlos Santana bug has bit me again this year), outdoor meditation, and some curry veggies with the new Thai yellow curry paste I picked up this week. We’re about to enter July (what happened to June?), and this is the peak of summer. It’s all so, so good.

Live in peace.

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