Monday, June 7, 2010


We have a fairly large garden. Actually, my lady-wife has a large garden and I'm the helper. This works out pretty well for both of us. She gets more work done than she could do herself, and I get something interesting that can sometimes be missing when working in some software shops: a specific, tangible result from your efforts.

In some places I've worked, projects are never really "done." You finish one project and the next is, well, more modifications to the same application. The result is, you are never really "done."

Gardening isn't like that. You work for four or five, or more, hours in a day and you can see what you have accomplished. You can see clearly defined areas without weeds, flowers, maybe vegetables, but always something you can look at and say "I did that today."

This weekend was a great example. Saturday morning there were some big, ugly nasty weeds growing along the fenceline, near where the vegetable garden goes. We got well over half of the weeds dug or pulled. By the time we had made it that far, the sun was pretty hot, so work shifted to a shady area in another part of the year. While we did not finish that portion on Saturday, the work that remains can be finished in another good day's work. The list is fairly simple: finish pulling the weeds; till the garden; hoe it back into rows. Then we can plant again.

Last year's rows are still visible. This is part of the garden's version of a "legacy" system. The footprint of last year is there. The problem is, sometimes that can make more work.

Where we are, and a fair portion of the state and region, tomatoes had a blight last year. This was a fungal infection, related to the same blight that caused the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840's. The relationship is the spores from the fungus. Because the spores are found where the plants were last year, there is a problem with the "legacy system" - we can't put the tomatoes where we have in the past. We also need to get them as far away from where they had been as we can get them.

The solution was pretty simple. Spores are contained in the ground. To keep the tomatoes from getting blight keep them from coming in contact with the spores. So, as with most of the really good ideas in the garden - well, all of them, my lady-wife came up with a solution. Pots. Lots of pots. Large pots. Lots of very large pots. In a sunny spot with no contact with the soil that may have blight spores. The top of the driveway, of course. Hot and sunny, good for tomatoes. Near the rain barrels so easy watering. Tomatoes like a lot of water, so this is good for both them and us.

Moral of the story? Just because you've "always done things this way," does not mean that another is available - particularly if the solution presents itself.

Have you ever noticed that the solution "presenting itself" usually happens when you need to completely change the rules? How often can we make the rules change in what we do with software? Beets me. Lettuce try.

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