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Small successes prove important in 2020

It’s not often that the first garden vegetable of the year is a green pepper, but that’s what happened this past week in my backyard.

I’d bought a 6-inch pepper plant and two 6-inch tomato plants as my main vegetable crops of the year, along with a little lettuce and beans. Weeds were an obsatcle for the lettuce. It was an early spring, a good starting point for weeds as well as produce.

I decided to take a creative approach with weeds around the pepper and tomatoes in case it became hot and dry. I let a few broad leaved, shallow rooted weeds serve as a cover crop, one that provides protection that helps the main crop reach its potential.

Conventional wisdom says to weed the garden. There’s always the option though, if you’re just growing things for fun, to try to be creative and innovative.

It’s not likely to become a trend in horticulture, but in my particular case it worked. My first pepper, which was just a bud when I bought the plant, grew to almost softball size. I made special effort with a pepper steak the same evening. There was still enough of the pepper left over for a mild nacho cheese appetizer later in the week.

It’s nice to have that kind of success with a natural process. It makes the time and cost of gardening a good recreational investment.

It also, in a small way, helps to maintain faith in the power of the natural world. So much of the news about health and environmental forces has been negative this year. After racial unrest following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, racisim questions are still a major part of the news but the Corona pandemic again makes up a big part of newscasts.

Of all the things that concern me about it, one of the foremost issues I see is the possibility that the next generation of young people will grow up with fears and phobias of the natural world.

This Virus that expanded from China is changing their summer routines, and possibly making this next school year a different kind of learning experience. It’s easy for them to wonder about what else might be out there ready to do more of the same.

Hopefully the response won’t be that they always ( in every situation) have to settle for virtual experiences. These can be good alternatives, especially for things that would be costly or logistically impossible to fit into schedules. Something like a virtual trip to Europe could help to set the stage for a real trip across the Atlantic at a later date.

It shouldn’t replace the real thing entirely. Everything possible needs to be done to ensure safe, practical ways of experiencing life to the fullest.

That whole idea reminds me of science fiction stories from the 1970s such as the movie and television series Logan’s Run and the story of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.

I remember the contrast of life in a futuristic domed city and the real world outside. I recall sensing how if the boy in the bubble could hug his parents, feel grass under his feet, and swim in a pool even for 10 minutes before he passed away; it would mean he learned more about what life should offer.

Hopefully even the grim real-life health issues of 2020 don’t turn kids off to being health care personnel or environmental professionals. Today’s situation proves as much as anything that both are needed.

My small success with the year’s first green pepper is one in hopefully a long line of experiences that awaken interest among millions of others. We’re blessed with a wonderful planet. It has thousands of factors that form fibers of life.

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