I was so proud of myself, replanting the beet tops instead of putting them into the veggie stock as the first step before adding them to the compost. I even drew a little picture of where my new beet-tops garden would be. It looked lovely on paper.
Apparently, my first beet-top planting also looked lovely as a midnight snack to some creaturely visitor. The new leaves had been sprouting up nicely from the repurposed root (you just take the top of the beet that’s near where the leaves originally were, and you plant it, and the leaves come back!).
Clearly, I am going to need a Plan B.
However, even if I find a workaround that prevents midnight beet snackers, I’m well aware that I share the world with all kinds of other creatures, and every year at least some of my garden substance goes to those who did not help me plant or tend. (Yes! I want to read them The Little Red Hen. 🙂 )
One of the most hilarious stories I’ve ever read about a gardener trying to make peace (okay, first war) with the creatures who fancy lettuce is in Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education. It involves a little gasoline and fire. A lot of cleverness on the part of a woodchuck. And some ensuing wisdom for Michael.
On a larger scale, modern agriculture has unfortunately often taken a warring—and winner takes all—stance towards other creatures, from those who live in the soil to those who graze on our beet tops. This stance has led to practices that are now coming back to haunt us in the form of eroding topsoil, climate breakdown, and substandard nutrition in our own fruits and vegetables (which makes us far more vulnerable to bacterial infections and viruses).
I do understand the temptation. It is so hard to lose some of what you worked hard for, or dreamed up, or came by through your own cleverness.
At the same time, I am coming to understand that the earth could make the same claim, if it were able to speak for itself. So much of what we enjoy as part of our everyday existence comes to us without us having lifted a finger to create or sustain it.
Research a little about regenerative agriculture, conservation agriculture, or silvopasture and write a poem that teaches us something about one of them. If you are a gardener yourself, write a poem about a plant, bush, or tree you can allow to grow on your land as a way to generously provide food for other creatures who share your land.
Red berries on
packages for birds.
—L.L. Barkat, from InsideOut: Poems