Grow up, my little veggie friends - no need to think about the harvest

OK, all my tender sproutlings, here's the deal: I provide a nice, south-facing bed of only the richest, finest topsoil from which tree roots and sharp rocks have painstakingly been removed with hoe, rake and mattock; I make sure you get plenty of water, spraying gently to avoid disrupting your dainty leaves; I get down on hands and knees to rip up weeds that otherwise could strangle you; I carefully cover bare dirt with a luxurious blanket of mulch concocted from shredded leaves and grass clippings; I've surrounded your home with a sturdy fence to ward off marauding deer and rabbits, and even constructed a greenhouse to trap sunlight and start you off in a delightfully toasty home.

In return, all I ask is that you do what should come perfectly naturally: grow into healthy, nutritious and tasty produce.

Oops, did I say tasty? I didn't mean to bring that up — the harvest is months away, nothing that should concern you now in the slightest. For the time being, all you need to do is soak up sunshine and feed off hearty, natural compost infused with vitamins and minerals.

You probably don't realize how good you have it compared to vegetables raised by giant, impersonal agri-conglomerates.

Those poor plants are constantly sprayed with chemicals — poisons! — all the while assaulted by a cacophony of tractors, combines and harvesters that spew diesel fumes.

Here, chirping birds and rustling leaves contribute to a tranquil environment; gentle breezes bring a steady flow of refreshing, clean air.

The aforementioned greenhouse, by the way, is something new, designed to enhance your growing experience.

I got the idea to build it a couple weeks ago after replacing a pair of sliding glass doors at the house. I couldn't bear to throw the old panels away, even though the frame had warped and rollers fell out of alignment, so decided they would be repurposed for garden use.

I don't need to tell you what a Herculean effort it was to lug those unwieldy panels uphill over a rocky trail, attach them to a new tent-shaped frame, and design an easily accessible doorway. You may notice that this utilitarian yet handsome structure occupies only a small portion of your overall growing space.

The idea is that you spend a few weeks in flats in this solar-heated greenhouse until the weather and soil finally warm up. Then, it's into the soil you go, free to spread your roots and grow tall.

Enjoy your new life here, my little veggie friends. Go forth and prosper; be fruitful and multiply.

Above all, don't mind me much later in the season when I start inspecting your progress more attentively while carrying an empty basket.

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