Why I Don’t Bother Gardening


A marker of life in many rural community is the fields – tobacco, corn, soybean. These are family owned fields that built the South, survived the Civil War, had slaves work them, and are on their 6th generation of farmers.  Some of the fields have several houses on them, splitting the land between generations. Occasionally, there is a “side yard” garden. These gardens can be up to 5 car lengths squared. When they are this large, the owners usually share their bounty for very low prices.  Sammy does this.

I’ve never met Sammy, but I know his garden. On the other side of town (2 miles), he sells out-of-the-ground  veggies. I make it my business to keep him in business.  I have an ineptness with growing food.  In summers past, I have spent $75 for three pots, dirt, plants, miracle grow on my harvest of 4 tomatoes the size of eggs, a few sprigs of parsley, lettuce that never came up and 1 squash. One. Squash.

I figure for $75, I can be Sammy’s best customer. Every year.

German Johnson tomatoes are more expensive than Romas. I get them because they have a cool sounding name. Like a farmer’s name who came from Germany.  I have no idea which are better or why.


Corn is $4.00 a dozen – but if you buy one dozen you get one free. A free dozen is always better than $2 for 12. Besides, if you only want a dozen, he still gets his $4. I like this guy.


Okra is $1.75 a pound. Not bad for a tiny fairly tasteless, slimy, seeded veggie – the staple of soups and all things fried.  It’s a bit like a cucumber got electrocuted and everything inside shriveled and turned white and slimy. Just for the record I HAVE had raw okra and grilled okra. Don’t do it.


Sammy trusts everyone. The “Honor System” box with chain is for “good personal checks”.  The money box, which is not chained,  always has extra $1’s in it for Yankees who bring $10 and only need $8 worth of produce.


Even if you don’t like squash, you get some because it’s $1 a pound.

One day I will pull up to Sammy’s house where the door is always closed, but a car is always there. I will ring the bell. He’ll be about 70 years young with huge cracked farmer’s hands, and lines etched in his face from the sun’s artistry.  He won’t smile when he talks to me and he’ll ask me where I’m from. I’ll tell him the other side of town and thank him for his veggie stand.