When my husband, Chris, developed a passion for gardening, I was surprised.
I never thought of him as the gardening type. I thought of him more as the Gordon Gekko, “I don’t throw darts at a board – I bet on sure things,” type.
As a Wall Streetbanker, my husband’s Armani suits screamed “tweed” not “weed.” His job was to buy and hold, not plow and hoe.
But one day, he decided to plant a few tomato seedlings; a few days later, some herbs; a few weeks later, some radishes, string beans, bell peppers and cucumbers. The next thing you knew, he was harvesting a farm crop and channeling farmer Eddie Albert from “Green Acres.”
“Gardening is therapeutic,” Chris explained from his gardening stool while he thinned out radishes. “It’s a way to unwind from the pressures of Wall Street.” Either that or, after siring three children, it was his way of continuing to fulfill his obligation to “be fruitful and multiply.” (If so, I was grateful he’d discovered a way to do it without involving our cleaning lady. Or me.)
Still, I worried. It seemed lately he’d been investing less in managed futures and more in bean stock. I questioned his ability to balance two juxtaposing worlds.
I hesitated to leave him for two weeks to visit my parents for fear I’d return home to find him plowing the backyard on a John Deere tractor. I imagined him commuting home from work, negotiating his way through the crowds at Penn Station carrying clay pots he got for a bargain in the flower district.
But when I returned home, I discovered that I had underestimated him. I tried to hide my shock when I surveyed his garden, which had turned into a bumper crop. It looked like a centerfold for Better Homes and Gardens.
The tomatoes were taller than me, and the bell peppers bigger than a Florida grapefruit. “This is incredible, “ I told Chris, who looked more relaxed than I had ever seen him.
“Yup,” he said proudly. “It’s all come together.” He then proceeded to rattle off the yield of every fruit and vegetable species known to mankind: “The Green Zebra tomatoes yielded ‘x,’ the Brandywine tomatoes ‘y,’ the Cherokee Purple tomatoes ‘z’ . . .”
“How did you get all that data?” I asked when he finished, an hour and thirty-seven minutes later.
“I created a model that would allow me to highlight which crops provide the greatest production for occupied bed area in order to protect my profits and limit loss. If you look at this chart, it shows a compilation of quantifiable yield information based on the varieties grown, climate, and growing conditions,” he replied, holding out a spreadsheet so long it would furnish enough confetti for a New York ticker tape parade.
From the looks of things, he had not only balanced two worlds, he had also optimized them.
“If my analysis is correct, next year’s garden will yield five times as much produce!”
“That’s great!” I said.
“I’ll just need to expand my garden by half its current size and relocate to the front of the house to optimize the duration of sunlight to time ratio,” he explained. “You know, this will require some larger equipment . . .”
“I figured. John Deere tractor?”
“Yes,” he said, voicing surprise.
“Sure thing,” I replied. “You can bet on that.”