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"I think that it is dead"
February 11, 2012 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Gardening Facepalm Their hearts are in the right place, but this is not how you do it.
posted by swooz (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Literalism bears weeds and death yet again.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:55 AM on February 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think I'd like to talk to these people about biogeography, natural selection and evolution.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:00 AM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


A very nice person I know thinks that if a person just eats the foods mentioned in the Bible and it's free of pesticides, preservatives, etc., then that person will live to be 120 years old because of Genesis 6:3 "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years." She'd be all over this.

Because this is metafilter I need to re-emphasize she is a wonderful person and this is just a funny quirk. No phylacteries, military compounds, PACs or oppression are involved.
posted by michaelh at 9:08 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Call me crazy, but there's a way some smart pastor could spin this.

As a society, we're all used to much easier access to food than there was in the Levant a couple thousand years ago. It wasn't uncommon at all for your fig tree or your olive crop or what have you to falter back then either - the only difference is that back then, you didn't have the option of just shrugging and saying "oh well, I'll just pick it up at Trader Joe's then" (or whereever). The note they had about one pastor celebrating because his grape vine produced a single bunch of actual grapes? That kind of celebrating probably happened a lot back then too.

Food is kind of an ordinary everyday miracle. Yeah, it would certainly make more sense to be growing your food plants in the proper environment -- if you're trying to grow something from the Mediterranean in, say, Topeka, you're gonna get problems -- but even if all the conditions are right there are still a fuck-ton of ways it can go wrong, and there's no guarantee that your crop will feed everyone long enough to last until you have the next harvest.

The only way we're able to get enough food for the average person to have strawberries in Winter or apples year-round involves massive amounts of fertilizer, importing things from other countries, and other technological acrobatics which society didn't have access to back then. So actually having everything go right, managing to have your plants produce enough fruit and grain and managing to save enough from the pests to feed everyone and have everyone have full bellies and have some left over, was cause for a celebration and gratitude. And those faltering trees and plants -- that's a reminder of that.

Some of these pastors could point this out to their flock if he's smart. ....And then, of course, look into a more locavore garden to up the bounty a bit next year.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:10 AM on February 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


"Behold, I am returned."
"Praise you, Jesus!"
"Rise, my children, for I am the Lamb of ... Wait, is that a fig tree?"
"Yes, Jesus. It was in the Bible, so we bought it mail-order."
"You idiots, isn't this Zone 7B? It's way too cold here."
"But Jesus..."
"I mean, the USDA has hardiness maps online."
"...it says in the Bible that..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Bible also says to stone adulterers. Anyway. Rise my children..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:16 AM on February 11, 2012 [56 favorites]


A couple of years ago, members of his congregation traveled to Israel and collected seeds—including the Galilee Hollyhock, a flower mentioned in the Book of Job.

I hope these people declared those seeds when they came back to the US. Brining in invasive species can have consequences of well, Biblical proportions.
posted by tommyD at 9:20 AM on February 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Didn't they just redraw the plant hardiness zones again?

Whatever the case, up here in NYC, we had delicious figs this summer from a tree that is sheltered by some stone walls during the winter. Others in the region wrap their figs over the winter. The pomegranate gets dug up in the fall and brought inside.

I think for Pesach, they might do better growing horseradish. That seems to be an unfussy plant.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:22 AM on February 11, 2012


Is there something demonic about the greenhouse? Build a little shack (an unused sukkah) cover it in plastic, add a little heat in the winter. Some fertilizer? Should be able to grow just about anything. Sheesh.
posted by sammyo at 9:38 AM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I admire their perseverance and just hope they're not messing up eco systems by importing foreign specimens.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:40 AM on February 11, 2012


Sammyo: yeah, methinks the rabbi hasn't so much as forced a bulb. He's in Florida, you'd think he'd have plenty of knowledgeable little old ladies (and gentlemen) to lend a hand. Do Jewish snowbirds not garden?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:49 AM on February 11, 2012


Are there squirrels in the middle east? An awful lot of their problems seem to be squirrel related when they're not climate related. Not surprising given that squirrels are evil.

My church has a community garden. They grow organic vegetables suitable to our climate and give them to the local food kitchens. I'm pretty sure the Lord would be ok with that. Maybe these churches should try something similar instead of spending who knows how many tithe dollars on trying to keep sickly plants alive for the sake of a religious fad.
posted by emjaybee at 9:53 AM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I thought this was going to be like "squash next to potatos lol!" This was far less entertaining and far more depressing.
posted by DU at 9:56 AM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not in the least bit religious, but on this point I think I agree with a lot of the people in those congregations: gardening is best left to gardeners.

I tried to garden one year. It was a spectacular failure that cost a shocking amount of my time and cash money.

The next year, I bought baby chicks.

Now when people ask if I garden, considering the large property I live on, I can shake my head, raise my hands defensively, and say "Gardening's not for me. I do chickens." This seems to satisfy them.

So my question to those pastors is, does the Bible mention chickens? Because chickens are awesome, but if you're not a gardener, then gardening is the worst.
posted by ErikaB at 9:58 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Many of the Italian-Americans among whom I grew up in not-remotely-Mediterraneanlike Connecticut had fig trees and grapevines that produced relatively well. As sciencegeek said, the fig trees were wrapped (and sometimes buried) for the winter. (They'll also grow in containers -- I know someone with a 5+ foot fig tree in a huge flowerpot.) Grapevines generally take a couple of years to start producing. Animals and insects will eat garden plants.

These folks are certainly trying to grow some things that are just not going to survive in North America, but I think the moral of the story is that knowing what plants are mentioned in the bible and knowing how to cultivate them are two very different things.

On preview: Maybe they think all they have to do is plant the seeds and faith will take care of the rest? I mean, we have squirrels where I live and there are even farms here.
posted by camyram at 10:00 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus in the New Testament is said to have been so irritated upon encountering a fig tree that bore no fruit that he declared: "May you never bear fruit again." The tree withered.

Then did Jesus say, "Take that, you stupid fig tree!"
posted by Huck500 at 10:12 AM on February 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


> I admire their perseverance and just hope they're not messing up eco systems by importing foreign specimens.

The majority of plants available at the garden center of your local big box hardware store are non-native (and often much thirstier than native species). Combine that with all the boutique online nurseries and you have the seeds of a large scale shift in the foliar landscape of the US. Thankfully, most of it is non-fertile grafts that die without close care.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


My church has a community garden. They grow organic vegetables suitable to our climate and give them to the local food kitchens.

What Jesus Would Do
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:32 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aside from the fact that our growing season is exactly opposite the rest of the United States, South Florida's soil (I use the term loosely) is made up of sand and salt, especially in the Vero Beach area. The good rabbi is going to need to spend about ten years making some fertile raised beds with organic matter, earthworms and mulch, and then maybe he'll get somewhere.

In fact, our climate is very similar to that end of the Mediterranean, the dirt just sucketh.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 10:59 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


My gran has two fig trees at 57 degrees north. In sand and salt. And actually, she's not that good a gardener. Keeping the bugs and hungry beasts away for the first five years is essential. I had a huge rosemary as well, but it died during a particularly bad winter. Mediterranean plants are generally very hardy - there are huge swings in temperature and humidity in the area, but I think the ancient idea of enclosed, protected gardens is essential for this type of growth, and I'm wondering wether the whole massive wheat production wasn't made possible because of slavery, with slaves digging canals and defending the crops against wildlife. When you compare wheat in the so-called "fertile crescent" to wheat in the great plains today, it is just two very different things.
posted by mumimor at 12:04 PM on February 11, 2012


Notice that the pastor in Fair Haven, VT, is wisely growing *juniper*.
posted by maryr at 12:33 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, pygmy date palms aren't exactly the palm you would grow if you wanted an edible date anyway. Many palms make "dates", most of them aren't worth eating.

In spite of that, I find the tone of this article weird. I'm a professional gardener and I support people trying to grow odd things out of their climate zone. He would probably be able to grow most of these plants with more experience- Arbequina and Misson olives do just fine anywhere citrus grows (I have a feeling that this rabbi's trees are still too young). Figs will be fine with good drainage, pomegranates should be fine, too- there are varieties that do well in tropical regions. Grapes are being grown successfully in tropical India. Actually, there's not a plant mentioned in the article that he shouldn't be able to grow, save for wheat.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:19 PM on February 11, 2012


I have personally eaten a fig from the tree growing at Brooklyn Rescue Mission's Bed-Stuy Farm, and it was absolutely delectable. The tree was a scrawny bush barely clinging to life when the Revs. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson cleared out the vacant lot for planting a few years back; within two years it was bearing sweet, sweet fruit.

What I'm saying is that if God's kingdom really is due to return to earth any day now, all those megachurch-worshipping Jesus freaks in Colorado Springs and such have got nothing on Bed-Stuy.
posted by gompa at 1:38 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe they think all they have to do is plant the seeds and faith will take care of the rest?

Plants have grown on this planet for millions of years, all by themselves, with no humans to tend them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:56 PM on February 11, 2012


(the fig I was talking about was in the Bronx)
posted by sciencegeek at 2:10 PM on February 11, 2012


charlie don't surf:
Plants have grown on this planet for millions of years, all by themselves, with no humans to tend them"

And the vast vast majority of them have done so nowhere near Florida.
posted by HFSH at 3:07 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Given a choice between religious people throwing bombs and passing oppressive laws, and religious people wasting time and money trying to grow plants, then I say dig away, my devout friends.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:49 PM on February 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have personally eaten a fig from the tree growing at Brooklyn Rescue Mission's Bed-Stuy Farm, and it was absolutely delectable. The tree was a scrawny bush barely clinging to life when the Revs. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson cleared out the vacant lot for planting a few years back; within two years it was bearing sweet, sweet fruit.

A (Fig) Tree Grows in Brooklyn?
posted by headnsouth at 4:49 PM on February 11, 2012


Jesus fuckin' hated figs.

Mark 11:12-14, 19-25
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.

When evening came, they went out of the city.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
Right after that he went into the temple and kicked the shit out of the money changers.

Figs show up in Luke, too.

Luke 13:6-9
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
Yeah, the Jesus, he doesn't like figs. There aren't a lot of fruits he doesn't like, but he doesn't like figs.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:00 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


GOD
HATES
FIGS

posted by charlie don't surf at 8:43 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


God promises terrible vengeance upon any fig-loving nation!

Further proof!
posted by gamera at 8:52 PM on February 11, 2012


Figs were out of season and the tree didn't have figs so Jesus cursed it? Man, even the Savior got cranky when he was hungry. That's a kinda dick move. (Sorry, Jesus, but it is. For everything there is a season, you should know that.)
posted by maryr at 11:44 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Parables, people. Layered tales about personal inner transformation. Jesus probably ate lots of figs when he wasn't on the mic.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:44 AM on February 12, 2012


Jesus in the New Testament is said to have been so irritated upon encountering a fig tree that bore no fruit that he declared: "May you never bear fruit again." The tree withered.

Well, as we all know, GOD HATES FIGS.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:48 AM on February 12, 2012


Dammit, I thought I previewed all the comments.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:48 AM on February 12, 2012


I have to admit, I love the image of Peter being a total teacher's pet, remembering that THAT was the fig tree Jesus cursed, and Jesus is all thinking "Oh man, I was being such a bitch that morning, I can't believe he remembers that, how embarassing." and is all sheepishly like "Yup, that's the one, heh heh..." and Peter's all proud of himself for remembering and think it is so cool Jesus was able to curse a tree.

No blasphemy intended, mind you. But these were putatively people and I'll bet it was hard for Jesus to do something and NOT have it taken as a parable.
posted by maryr at 10:39 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


> But these were putatively people and I'll bet it was hard for Jesus to do something and NOT have it taken as a parable.

Well, I think the thing is that nothing that made the Gospels was just a simple narrative. It's just as likely that groups of people wrote them rather than the individuals credited. They tend to have their own unique language, with things like stone, water, wine, fruit, etc all representing degrees of knowledge and development.

One of my favorite books about interpreting the Gospels is Maurice Nicoll's "The New Man" [PDF]. He looks at them from the point of view of a psychological language that describes human knowledge from the coarse, literal level to the more refined and direct perception.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:59 AM on February 12, 2012


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