Gardening, Philosophy, and Other "Social" Experiments

Nov 2010

lettuceStephen and I have a garden. Well, it’s not so much a garden as it is a collection of vegetables in pots on our second story balcony. And our dream is to one day make a salad where every ingredient was harvested off this balcony.

It’s not going well. No matter how much we water, and fertilize, and prune, and read about what ‘container gardens’ need on the internet… we have the gnarliest collection of pot vegetables you have ever seen. Occasionally, a single edible strawberry is produced, or a squash flower comes thisclose to turning into an actual squash. But we are a very long way from that salad.

Case in point. What you are looking at is a picture of a ‘head of lettuce’ from our garden. We were taking stock over the weekend…

Me: I think our garden is dying.
Stephen: Not the lettuce – the lettuce looks great!
Me: (reaching down to pick up the edge of the trailing lettuce stem) Why does it look like a vine?
Stephen: (shrugs)
Me: How can we find out?
Stephen: (shrugs)

There was a time when diagnosing our lettuce would have required a trip to the garden center. Those days, my friends, are gone.

Me: Let’s post it on Facebook!
So we did.

Stephen Wagner Does anyone know why our lettuce looks like a vine? Weird.

Wikipedia defines social media as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques… which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content… social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.”

These days, you just throw a question out into the social universe, and chances are, someone in your ‘network’ knows the answer. Within 2 hours, our very garden-savvy friend Sarah, who has a farm in Oregon, had replied:

Sarah Peterson It went straight to seed. Weather probably wasn’t right.

Aha! We did plant the lettuce in July, even though the package specifically said it was a cold weather grower. (And didn’t we think we were SO smart when it sprouted anyway!? Clearly, the lettuce had the last laugh here.)

And though we were satisfied that we had our answer, social media had another surprise in store for us. Our friend Tamara, who owns a Pilates studio, also had a reply:

Tamara Wiper ‎”When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water or less sun. You never blame the lettuce.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Now, in addition to the answer to our gardening question, we had food for thought for the rest of the day. With a diverse network of friends willing to share their expertise, there’s no end to what you can learn on Facebook.

Katie Wagner Occasionally, I blame the lettuce. 🙂

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