My MIL is really something. In less than a year, she got her backyard transformed into a productive veggie patch. You know the jokes about Singaporeans thinking that watermelons grow on trees or featherless chicken - I laugh at these jokes but am careful not to do it too loudly. For I am not much better than the average city bumpkin on the street. Most of us brought up in the city will not have the patience to observe or the confidence to differentiate one green leafy thing from another. How sad. Just imagine if we ever get stranded on an island full of edibles but we fail to identify any of them. I always pride myself as a little better than the the average city bumpkin. At least I don't have to ask, "Are those chillis?"
It took me some conditioning to be attuned to world of veggie patch. The celery at the far end do not look like a messy heap of stout weeds anymore. The young capsicum plants can be recognised even before they fruit. Grapes and passion fruit creepers can be differentiated at first glance. Blueberries, and mulberries have so different needs. Growing almond is plausible. Fig, guava, lemon, lime, orange. The MIL is serious about reaping what she sow. I appreciate her efforts and thoughts. It wasn't done for herself but for her children and grandchildren.
Every time she offers vegetables, I will not reject them. This week she has a oversupply of sweet potato leaves. I never like sweet potatoes leaves but I accept them all the same. I make sure I tell Albany that the veg on the table that evening are her grandmother's hard work, then eat my share and encourage her to do the same. I saw Albany dancing around the veggie patch the other day, appreciating the abundance around her.
I come to realise how different home grown produce is to commercial ones. For starters, the home grown ones never look as attractive half the time. They are often mangled, out of shape or short of the radiance of the version that commercial consumers are used to. They don't even taste the same, though not necessarily less delicious. I am not going into the debate whether chemical improvers, pesticides and genetically modified organism is harmful for human beings or not. Nobody knows, nobody cares or can do anything about it even if any gives a hoot about it. What I can see from this experience is, with a backyard, you have another choice.