No fat cats. There’s a small Austin bank who believes it should work as hard as you do. A bank who believes in service with a smile. A bank where there are no fat cats, no matter what their color. frelliONAL 11th and Interregional In Union there’s strength. Austin It’s only natural. The urban farmer first heads to the lumberyard and picks up twelve feet of 1×8 and eight feet of 1×12, and of course some l x2 for runners so the roof won’t rot. What is the urban farmer doing? He’s building a planter, in which he will grow his own tomatoes. His attitude toward the project is complex, but not very interesting. The dispute with Sartre: The garden hose in myth and metaphor. That sort of thing. It distills to the fact that tomatoes run 590 the pound, and the other fact that everyone on his block is growing them. Clearly, it’s his sort of fad. HOME WITH his $6.00 worth of lumber, he borrows some power tools and engages a friend in building the planter. The friend nails crudely, but fast. It takes an afternoon. Completed, the planter box is so handsome that the urban farmer This article, in a slightly different form, originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. 14 Teh Texas Observer briefly considers using it as bookshelves. Or a boat. As night settles over his little city, he is sitting in the planter on the roof, smoking. Then he gets out, remembering tobacco mosaic, a plant disease he has read about. As any dilettante farmer can tell you, reading about growing things is a mistake. But the urban farmer insists. Days later he staggers out to his planter \(staggers up, not now thinking of the beautiful blond wood. He is thinking of fusarium wilt, blossom end rot, nematodes, sunscald, leaf miners, leaf hoppers, hornworms, and aphid-herding ants. Luckily \(as they always say in plant his life and knows just what to do in such a situation. Press on regardless. Dirt! he thinks. Prepare for the dirt with a layer of rocks on the bottom of the planter for drainage. Now, as Freud taught us, there are always problems if you know how to look for them. The urban farmer quickly invents two. First, how large should the rocks be? And second, where does one secure a good wheelbarrow load of rocks? Reading in his tomato book reveals that its author thinks carelessly. Size is not specified. Down the block is a driveway with a good number of rocks just lying around. The driveway has been abandoned, and leads to nothing. He drives down to the driveWay, parks, gets out with an old pillowcase. Looks around. He sees himself, briefly, in a newspaper photograph. Up on three hundred and twelve counts of rock theft. Loud, Vulgar, A Neighbor Recalls. On the roof with the rocks, he pours them into his planter, picking out the sticks, slivers of green glass, pop tops, and other assorted garbage. Size no longer matters. He is pressing on regardless. Dirt is obtained in much the same manner. In exactly the same manner, in fact, with a lot of speculation about pH, humus, clay, sand, and microorganism content. The speculation is blessedly idle. Dirt is dirt, as the saying goes. He mixes in sand borrowed from the landlord and some “pasteurized” potting soil. The soil costs $4.00. Resting, he tries to figure out the difference between filth that will grow 23 which needs pasteurizing. Between good and bad filth. This is the sort of question which always occurs when he attempts to embrace environmental ideology. The question is too much for him. He contents himself with facts. Horse, rabbit, and sheep manures are hot manures \(rich in cold. Cat manure, readily available, is not covered. The urban farmer has now spent ten days and $10 and he feels ready. He buys three plants and sets them in the planter. Not to miss any bets, he speaks warmly to his plants, when no one else is around you never know when talk show trivia is going to pay off. The plants begin growing. It is a miracle of course, and he is suitably awed. Just like a power drill! he thinks. It works! FROM HERE the process accelerates. Miracle is piled on miracle. Buds appear, then blossoms \(small and avoid being too natural, the urban farmer runs out and buys, for a dollar, a jar of some greenish crystals which when mixed with water become a chemical fertilizer. This he lavishes on his plants. They appear to love it. They appear to love it because they stand up straight and raise their limbs. But, they may be shrieking, who can tell? Then, just as the lore has it, aphids appear, herded by ants. The herding itself is difficult to see. The ants may be just hanging around. The aphids are fat and reddish. The blood of my plants, the urban farmer thinks. His book comes in very handy at this point, lapsing into technology. It instructs him to put aluminum foil under the plants because the aphids, on the underside of the leaves, can’t stand the reflected sunlight. This he understands Urban farmer, amiable crop By Steve Barthelme
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