Kingman Column: Cultivating our garden of eatin'

I can't quote her exactly, but there is no doubt my bride gave me fair warning when we were discussing doing more with our back yard than making it a haven for little pink rocks.

What she said went something along these lines. "I know you, and I know you're really going to get into this. You're going to be spending a lot of time back here."

It wasn't always like this. I'd initially viewed the back yard as my enemy, an oversized patch of land that was too expensive to cover with concrete. The view evolved over time with a touch of landscaping - those little pink rocks, of course, and six evergreens that were knee-high back then, perhaps 20 feet tall now.

The gazebo, however, was the tipping point. We'd sit out there as the sun set and, having nothing else to talk about, we'd discuss what else we could do with the available space. Roxanne's paraphrase in the second paragraph was uttered in the fall of 2010, and in January and February of 2011, my days off were being spent actually buying and building stuff that would lead to having a garden with live plants and everything.

(Full disclosure: "Building" in this case means holding items in place while Roxanne handled the actual tools.)

We planted way too early. It snowed on our tomato plants. Sensing there was still change jingling in my pocket, Roxanne sent me to the store to buy fruit trees. Some of them lived. We ate six fresh figs last year.

As I recall, the tomato plants went dormant in the middle of summer, then rebounded and started producing more fruit than we could eat. The first hard frost came with dozens still on the vine. We picked them and ended up eating most of them as they continued to ripen.

Then we waited, counting the days before we could get back out to the garden. We expanded the gardening area, planted a watermelon sprout elsewhere (two harvested already, three nearly ready and getting bigger by the day), and added zucchini to our list of crops.

I wasn't shy about letting Roxanne know I thought it was a dumb idea to plant two zucchini. Who eats zucchini? We can't even give them away to the neighbors, I told her.

Then she sliced up a zucchini and steamed it with garlic and butter.

"You want to take a spare zucchini to work? See if someone wants it?" she asked the other day.

"Are you nuts?" I said. "It's the best thing in the garden!"

Well, the best along with the tomatoes, the peppers, the grapes. The first apricot harvest (all seven of them) was complete before June. It looks like the plum harvest (about eight of them) will be here before the end of July. We plan on lots more apricots and plums next year.

Our 36 figs will start to turn any day now.

And the apple tree is still dead.

I don't have a green thumb, but I've proven I can water and drink beer at the same time.

There are worse things to do as the sun sets on another summer day. You can quote me on that.

•••

It just wouldn't do to leave my liberal fan base without something to chew on, so I'll end with this:

A Senate Budget Committee analysis based on Congressional Budget Office estimates and growth rates has concluded that total spending for the Affordable Care Act will reach $2.6 trillion over its first full decade.

Our president said the ACA would cost $900 billion over 10 years, but his 10-year time frame ending in 2019 only included five years when the majority of spending provisions were in effect.

Now we have an estimate in place putting the total nearly three times his first figure. This is not surprising to people familiar with Washington and budget projections.

The CBO, meanwhile, will offer its own updated analysis of the ACA on July 23.

I used last week's space to detail how the ACA was costing individuals more for their health care. The liberals bashed away in the online comments, but did any of them dispute that the ACA wasn't costing individuals more? That it was making health care more expensive?

Now, new cost estimates are coming in on the government side, something else we'll all have to pay for. And liberals will still stubbornly insist the ACA is the deal of a lifetime.

Blind faith in government is an amazing thing.