Soapbox Part 11

November 28th, 2011  |  Published in Fiction

Here’s part 11 of Soapbox (unedited, as usual). If you are new here and want to read the whole story, you can skip back to part one, or read the entire thing as one page. Enjoy.

“Let me show you around,” David said, and began leading Ethan around, narrating as he went.

The roof had been covered with soil formed into long rows. They were growing everything from spinach and lettuce to potatoes to garlic and onions. The northern edge of the roof had a row of short trees and bushes planted in large makeshift pots, most of which appeared to have been cut from 55-gallon plastic drums. Stacks of white boxes were sitting in front of the trees, and it took Ethan a moment to recognize them as bee hives. Near the stairwell was a series of cubical compost bins.

“This looks like a lot of work,” Ethan said.

“Not really, with everything in rows and well spaced, three of us can usually go through it in an hour or two with the hoes,” David said and pointed to where Jess and Bridget were already halfway through the rows that they had started.

“What about the rest of the time then?” Ethan asked. “Why the four hour shift?”

“After that, we harvest and pack up anything that’s ready to head to the Bazaar, and do other maintenance things, like turning the compost and maintaining the tools,” David said. “Ready to get started?”

“Sure,” Ethan said.

David retrieved two long handled hoes from the tool bin, and after a brief tutorial on its use, Ethan was able to spare enough of his attention to talk as he worked.

“This isn’t so bad,” he said. “I had pictured it as spending all day on my knees pulling weeds out under the hot sun.”

“I know, its like people have been farming for ten thousand years, right?”

“When you put it that way,” Ethan said, feeling like an idiot.

“Don’t worry,” David said. “All you ever see on TV is people planting everything so tight that they have to do things the hard way.”

“Why do they do it that way, then?”

“With intensive gardening, you can get a lot more food out of a smaller space, but it just doesn’t scale. It makes sense for a three hundred square foot garden, just not here.” David waved his free hand to indicate the entirety of the roof area. Ethan did a quick mental calculation and realized that the roof was probably 10,000 square feet.

“Wow,” Ethan said, and turned his attention back to his work, questions temporarily exhausted. David did the same.

I hope the gardening stuff didn’t bore you to tears, but I felt it necessary to explore in order for the Bazaars to be believable. The idea of using a row system rather than raised beds came directly from Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, which also happens to be my favorite gardening book for Washington State. If you didn’t like this section, though, don’t worry, I will be going back to talking about culture and technology on Wednesday.

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