Jack Simpson - 04/10/09
New Victory Garden

I do not know what triggered the idea. Maybe it was the arrival of robins on the lawn. Perhaps it was the flowering of trees, or maybe the advent of Daylight Saving Time.

Could it have been television images of the first lady surrounded by little children digging up the White House lawn to plant a garden? Perhaps it is the economy, the actions of selfish executives who pursued their business gains without regard for common hard-working folks. Maybe the job losses, pension losses, higher gasoline and food prices caused me to decide that this year I would plant a small garden.

Anyway, I went out to the small garden where I had once harvested a few vegetables from each summer and noticed it needed some attention. I had let several years of non-use go by.

Getting out my tools and fertilizer, I dug that space up by hand. Sure, I had a tiller, but it had also sat unused, so naturally it would not start. Funny how machines like tillers and mowers have lives of their own. If you neglect them, such valuable tools will not be ready when you are to do essential jobs around the house.

It was a pretty spring day, so I dug and dug and enriched the soil in preparation for my 2009 garden. Maybe a few green onions, some lettuce, tomatoes and a few green beans would constitute my definition of this year's bumper crop.

Yeah, sure - my garden might be successful if the weather cooperates, the weeds don't take over, the deer leave it alone, or the bugs don't eat everything. I have my usual dreams of harvesting a bumper crop and enjoying some really fresh produce, but often such dreams fade quickly under hot, dry summer heat and extended drought.

My spouse watched as I shoveled my way into a kitchen garden. She shook her head and told me it will probably be cheaper in the end for me to go see Ben Evans and buy my vegetables from him. "How many bumper crops have you actually harvested in the last five years?" she asked.

She made a valid point, but remembering World War II victory gardens, I told myself I was being patriotic. Besides, I like being outdoors and digging in the dirt. Who knows, maybe this year I'll pull up more than weeds from my small home garden.

Being a senior citizen, I may just long for a return to childhood and secretly wish to join those fifth-graders getting ready to garden on the White House lawn.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.