Gardening for Real People, Part I

What Edibles to Grow

So, you've started gardening, and you want to grow some things you can eat. You should: It's a wonderful thing to eat something you've grown yourself, and if you have kids, it's very good, I think, that they have some idea that food does not merely appear on the grocer's shelf. (If they've ever heard of a "grocer," that is.)

Now, if you have the time and space, grow anything and everything your climate supports. But even then, it's not a bad idea to start small, and, for the rest of us, it's a necessity. So what should you grow in the portion of your garden devoted to edibles? I suggest two categories of plants:

1) Those that taste much better fresh-picked.
Here, my favourites right now are peas and lettuce in the spring, and tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer. (A cucumber just off the vine is really a different animal than one bought from the store.)

2) Those that can't be had in realistic quantities in the produce section.
And by "realistic," I mean small enough quantities, not large enough. Consider chili peppers. You might need one or two for your recipe, but don't you feel fool putting a bag with one chili in it on the conveyor belt? Grow them, and pick one whenever you need it. And you can grow chilies in pots, so you can even bring them in for the winter.
But an even bigger winner in this regard is herbs. Your dinner recipe calls for four basil leaves. OK, you might feel foolish buying one chili, but you just can't buy four basil leaves! The herbs are sold in bunches that are simply way too much for any recipe except, perhaps, something like a pesto. So you either use jarred herbs, or wind up throwing out a slimy mess from the bottom of the produce drawer. Instead, grow them! Then walk outside and snip off the four leaves you need. Most herbs are very easy to grow, and the "You can even grow them in pots" applies here as well.


  1. Bzzt, failure, not possible to teach gardening over the internet, you have to apprentice, anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand the nature of knowledge.

  2. Ok, Silas, here I display the great limits of my patience. You keep making snide posts that imply that I, or Oakeshott, or Hayek, or some critic of rationalism, has, at some point, said something like, "Verbal instruction is useless!"

    So who said this, where and when?

    And if you can't cite someone saying that, can you please cut the asininity? Yes, I've adopted you as my one, permitted, obnoxious poster. But that doesn't mean there are no limits to my tolerance.

  3. Silas, you might with benefit read Wittgenstein's wonderful discussion of "Following a Rule," to understand how even the ability to apply an algebraic formula correctly rests upon participation in a practice that cannot be formalized.

  4. Now Gene, how could I possibly assimilate an insight like that through a text-only channel? Wouldn't I have to apprentice to a Wittgenstein student or something?

  5. Bzzt, failure. It is not possible to teach Silas Barta anything over the internet. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand the nature of Silas Barta.

    (Just kidding. Mostly.)

  6. "Now Gene, how could I possibly assimilate an insight like that through a text-only channel? Wouldn't I have to apprentice to a Wittgenstein student or something?"

    OK, one more time: no critic of rationalism has ever said (to my knowledge) that textual instruction or wisdom is stupid or useless. YES, the ultimate would be to apprentice to a Wittgensteinian! But that does not mean reading his text is without value.

    This is the last time I will explain this, Silas. If you continue to make moronic posts implying that critics of rationalism contend that there is no value in the written word, they will henceforth be deleted. And PSH will have been proven correct!


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