I am, at best, what you would call an armchair gardener. I like to read about gardening and agriculture. I love perusing seed catalogs. I like to plant things in the ground and watch them grow. I even enjoy a bit of weeding. But I lack the two very important things that define a real gardener: a patch of soil and dedication.
You might already know I live in a very modest 15th floor apartment in Harlem. I have no outdoor space. I have a sunny window where I torture and kill potted herbs. Last winter I was inspired by a plant catalog to try to start what I referred to as "my citrus plantation." Most of the plantation is still alive but it has a spider mite infestation so it looks more like twigs sticking out of clay pots. Last Fall it produced a single inedible fig.
Lucky for me I have friends who have yards and gardens. Friends who grow things. When I put the request out on amongst these friends I was half kidding. But now I have almost a dozen volunteers who will raise Tarbais beans this summer. And I will make the cassoulet from those beans. Luck for all of us I'm a pretty good cook.
So I've ordered 1000 seed beans from a rare seed place. That should give everyone enough seed beans to allow for mishaps. I've read that it takes about 10 plants to produce a pound of dried beans. The last cassoulet I made took 2 lbs of beans and served 10 people. So I figure if we come up with 2 1/2 lbs of beans between all the gardens, we have enough for one cassoulet for all of us. If we're more productive than that I guess I'll be making a lot of cassoulet next winter.
Meanwhile, I'm just enjoying the view from my armchair.