Of all things, it was the November, 2010 Reader's Digest that triggered my thoughts for this blog. An article written by Lenore Skenazy, The Petrified Woman! is in the issue. Skenazy's article was a rant on what she termed "Watch Out! mania" by a media warning us continually about the dangers of everything from consuming onion dip to riding elevators to thunderstorms. Since I have an ongoing low tolerance to similar nanny-state actions that affect my gardening practices, it tripped my own similar frustrations.
For starters, every day I open up my att.mail home page that briefly lists the weather high's and lows and other weather data for Manhattan, Kansas. Nowadays, it seems like there's always a severe weather warning out, for heat, cold, ice storms, thunderstorms, wind, you name it, seems like it whatever it is, it's "severe." I've seen severe weather alerts listed for bright clear windless days when the air temperature was going to reach 87F. C'mon, I know it's Kansas, but we do get some normal days, and global warming just hasn't advanced enough to make that much difference yet. I promise that if it's hot out I'll drink more water and seek shade more often without being warned. And there is a similar panic epidemic among television weather people. I've seen television programming interrupted more and more here, for everything from a misty rain shower to storm clouds that pass over without precipitation. When we had a real tornado in Manhattan a few years back, we had over a half-hour warning and by the non-stop coverage you'd have thought Satan was coming in on a black horse. Really, the best indication I have that the weather is really bad is that right at the moment that I'm most interested in hearing what's coming at us, the satellite reception always goes out. That's the time to batten down the hatches.
When was the last time you bought a new hoe or axe and didn't find it as dull as a spoon? The issue here is that most young gardeners don't know anymore that hoes are supposed to be sharp so we can cut off weeds at the surface, not hack away at the dirt. What's that? I think just heard several of you get up to run out and sharpen your hoes. Heck, I'm surprised they allow Felco pruners to be sharp these days.
Soon there will be a government agency whose sole purpose is to inspect our lawn mowers to make sure they're as unfunctional as possible and whose agents come around to dull our hoes if there's a possibility they might cut butter. There will be a special SWAT team tasked to search out foxgloves and hot peppers in our gardens with the use of specially trained dogs. At some point, if this keeps up, I'm sure that any plant capable of producing allergens or poisons or irritant sap, or thorns capable of scratching will be banned from our gardens by government decree. Let's see, that'll leave us with spireas, mums, and maybe, if we're lucky, a strawberry or two. I'm going to go out on a limb and state right now that they can have my mums and spireas too, but if they mess with my strawberries, that's the last straw.