Thursday

April 2nd, 2020

Insight

Time to plan your coronavirus garden. Do you really have anything better to do?

John Kass

By John Kass

Published March 23, 2020

Time to plan your coronavirus garden. Do you really have anything better to do?
The coronavirus really doesn't give two figs for what you think. But Mother Nature doesn't care what the coronavirus thinks either, so they're even.

And now we're into the first days of spring, just as many of us are beginning to believe we'll go crazy from all the self-isolation ahead.

Happily, I've come up with a plant-based plan to keep you all quite sane:

A coronavirus garden.

We all should have a coronavirus garden and now's the time to plan it out.

Why not?

Do you have something else better to do?

Many Americans have been hunkering down in their homes and begun talking to their dogs. Some expect a response.

And before I started with the garden, I was looking for a book.

Zeus the Wonder Dog lifted a paw to say he doesn't know where I put that Hans Morgenthau book, "Scientific Man versus Power Politics."

"The book you really need to read right now with the culture about to go to hell in the coronavirus panic is ‘Why Liberalism Failed' by Dineen," Zeus said. "But you stupidly put it in storage. Damn it, John."

Yes, Zeus, I did stupidly put my books in storage. And now that I'm self-isolating, I can't get to them.

I bit my tongue.


When the dogs are right, you know the world has gone mad.

As a member of the immunocompromised community, I've stayed in for a week. But I've remained calm by avoiding watching scary any zombie movies on Netflix, especially ones featuring fast-running zombies.

The slow-moving ones are no problem. You can easily ward off slow-moving zombies with a gentle push of a sponge mop, as you might with Joe Biden.

But back to the gardening.

Many years ago, people planted victory gardens during the wars. Now we're at war with a virus. And coronavirus gardens across the land would be a benefit to all.

We could talk to our plants and quit bothering our dogs.

In planning your coronavirus garden, forget the flowers. You can't eat flowers.

"The one thing I'm not growing is wheat," my friend and barber Raffaele Raia said over the phone Thursday. "I don't want pan di grano (wheat bread). No pan di grano for me."

Agreed. No pan di grano for me, either. Besides, wheat requires too much land and labor. You must thresh it or pile it into a blanket and beat it with sticks before grinding it into flour.

But we're not living in the early Middle Ages.

That comes next year.

For now, no matter where you live, in the city or the suburbs, if you have your own home, chances are you have some land. Naturally, if you live in an apartment, you're out of luck.

In your coronavirus garden, don't forget the potatoes. They'll keep. Onions too. Carrots and other root vegetables as well.

Beans on poles, cucumbers on trellises to save precious square footage. Tomatoes, of course.

But no watermelon. For one thing, they suck up too much water. And for another thing, watermelons are the wanton barbarians of fruit. They go where they please and strangle their neighbors at a whim.

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If I were Draco, the severe lawgiver of ancient Athens, I'd mandate that everyone grow a coronavirus garden. And, in this time of sheltering-in-place laws, I'd mandate that garden centers remain open, along with liquor stores and government-licensed recreational marijuana peddlers.

People can't live on dried beans and beer alone. You need vegetables.

Some of you avid gardeners out there don't need any prompting from me. You're always bragging about your tomatoes. I know the type.

Once I knew a manic gardener. He'd crush all the dirt clumps by hand. His soil was loamy. He'd peg black landscape fabric down, stretch it tight, and cut holes in it to plant his garden.

The maniac was so obsessed that he couldn't abide even a speck of dirt on his landscape fabric. He'd sweep it daily, with a push broom, so his vegetable garden was dirtless, like a tarmac with plants sticking out. You might say he was wound a bit tight in the garden department.

His wife and neighbors would just smile and shake their heads, because they already knew he was bat-crap crazy. He discussed books with his dog.

Some of you have never gardened, and only thought about it perhaps while watching a zombie movie in which the protagonist finally finds sanctuary, and relaxes, lowering his guard, cultivating his garden. Then a bunch of fast zombies show up, run him down in the tomatoes and eat the brains out of his head.

Please, don't worry about those fast zombies. I think they're just fiction.

The thing to do is grow food, including corn, on account of the paper product hoarders.

"And herbs!" said a chef friend of mine on the phone. "I need herbs to live!"

OK, herbs too.

But to stay sane, please avoid cable news, with all those agitated, frightened barking dogs of politics and media jealously tearing at the flesh of the republic.

There is no flesh in a coronavirus garden.

It's vegan. It's peaceful.

Now, in the cool wet of early spring, you can smell the earth. Some of you have already started seeds and are itching for that dirt.

Sadly, some have no dirt. They have no yards. That maniac gardener I told you about has downsized. He has no garden.

He beseeches thee to pity the dirtless.

And save me a tomato.

(COMMENT, BELOW)

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM.

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