Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Number One, please inform the ship's crew that the purpose of the Ship's Garden is to provide active recreation. (There are no illusions about actually feeding the crew from the results of gardening. )
The Garden Project allows Commander Data to enjoy researching deer resistant, drought tolerant, low maintenance plant life forms that can survive the packed clay soil and compete with the virulent weed aliens that thrive here. It keeps Dr. Crusher's interns busy proscribing mild analgesics and heat therapy and exercise programs for gardeners such as the excellent Spark People Workout that promises to prevent back and shoulder injuries which I regret was delayed in being made available.
It allows Geordi to theoretically engineer irrigation systems and terraforming plans to develop a pleasing but efficient result that requires very little of the crew's energy beyond what is available for recreation, that is the daylight hours not assigned to life maintenance activities like bathing, grooming, eating, toothcare, food preparation and Spark People Points gathering. The Chief Engineer enjoys measuring the dimensions, pacing off the areas which might be cultivated, and creating graphics of possible outcomes. The diagrams are visually stunning.
Some success has been achieved under test conditions: the herbs now growing in containers have the potential to keep 10 Forward supplied with enough mint for a year's worth of Mojitos or Mint Juleps, and the kitchen with fresh herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes so long as the menu is mainly Italian and the illness requires mint tea. Roses in containers have new leaves. I personally look forward to someday having a fresh rose in my quarters once or twice. Whether or not any of these trial plantings will survive tranplanting into the actual soil remains to be discovered. We look forward to going where no one has gone before.
But mostly the Ship's Garden is an efficient way to burn calories to balance the excessive time the crew spends at the computer on garden web sites, watching mind-numbing basic Cable HGTV, or reading paper novels about civilizations where gardens were commonplace such as Lady Chatterley's Lover and Dune. I believe it is important to remind the crew members of this priority so that false expectations do not lower morale. We must live in peaceful co-existence with the deer population as they are a protected species in spite of their rodent like propensities to eat whatever is not metal and to leave their excrement in the public avenues. Further, the plant forms that can survive the dense clay soil, the limited supply of water, the invasion of weeds without number, and the limit to the financial resources available to ameliorate these conditions do not auger well for anything resembling the catalogs, seed packets, diagrams and other works of fiction. That being said, I encourage all crew members to avail themselves daily of the pleasures and calorie burning opportunity the Garden does provide. Birds continue to investigate, insect life is vigorous, and the deer are friendly and curious about humans. Avoid the burrs, stickers, prickly leaves, and barbed seeds by remaining on the concrete walkways at all times. When the rains come in 4 months it will be possible to walk in the mud with boots as the infant weed crop sprouts and consumes the dangerous adult seed parents. I am sure we are all looking forward to that.