Published on ADDitudeMag.com

Farming for Focus

Gardening is not amenable to helter-skelter thinking. You have to plan and focus. And I love it.

by Bill Mehlman


Q: What is the opposite of an ADHDan?
A: A farmer.

Ah, you say to yourself, poor Willie, he’s finally gone over the edge, the blitherer. Not so fast, Bunky.

Granted, I’m not a really a farmer. It would be remarkable if I were, considering that the area of Manhattan in which I live probably hasn’t seen a farm since the Van Buren administration. But this year I finally made up my mind and hit the garden center at Lowe's, hard.

So the sills of all of the nice south- and west-facing windows in my apartment are crowded with Red Robin cherry tomatoes, three kinds of chilies, two kinds of basil, two varieties of lavender, dill, parsley, and a bunch of miscellaneous houseplants (Note to self: no more of those sweet peas that smell like a factory in Mindanao making the world's cheapest knockoff perfume.)

Here's what I found out from growing this stuff: farming is not amenable to helter-skelter thinking. You have to plan (how many days from germination to flowering; which variety will be compact enough for the kitchen window; will the early jalapenos be done and in the pickling jars before the Serranos that share their bed begin to bust loose).

You have to keep records (which varieties did you get from your buddy in Pound Ridge). You have to look at the crops daily, checking for fungus gnats, white scale, aphids — yep, New York is a great place; we even have aphids. Water. Not too much water. Turn the plants (the sun only comes into the apartment from one direction, right?).

I love it. My wife just shakes her head (see if she gets any of the world's best Caprese when I harvest my goodies and make some fresh mozzarella next month!). It's soothing. Lots of visual and olfactory clues.

Farmers, even farmers on First Avenue, don't have to deal with many abstractions. And think how calm and focused I'll be next year when I turn the spare bedroom into a greenhouse. Eggplants. Nasturtiums. A couple of Meyer lemon trees. Maybe a little pool, with some Nymphaea, in the dark corner.

How much do you figure a couple of those Koi fish would cost?


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Source: Farming for Focus