AdviceHey, Bonita!

No, Russia Is Not Trying to Infiltrate Your Home Garden

As a veteran of Laocoön-like struggles, lasting several days now as of this writing, I am finally collapsing on the beach of fatigue and reaching out to you, and to no other. Even as this appeal will float as a note in a bottle across the crowded lanes of the information highway, I trust it will bob to the surface in the little well of your inbox and bring me some relief from the struggle I face as the hours accrete into a towering wall of expectation and apprehension.

So, here’s the deal: In a fit of dangerously adventurous online clicking, I happened to find a supplier for a rare cucumber I have grown before but cannot find among local seed vendors. The cucumber is called a Brown Russian, and as a piece of garden fruit it cannot be surpassed. It stays crisp in the fridge for at least six weeks, and has as clean and refreshing a flavor as one might find in any cuke.

My problem is that, with all this Russian stuff going on in the news feed of social, straight and fake media, I am beginning to wonder if I made a good choice. The other problem is that this cuke has been especially aggressive this season among the other vegetables, reaching without notice into neighboring plants’ spaces and choking off their access to universal benefits like air, sunshine and rainfall.

I am beginning to wonder, too, if my “choice” might have been affected by Russian influence in the global seed market, and if, by my selection of this seed to sow in my very local and American plot of garden soil, I might have contradicted my unspoken pledge to protect American soil, especially in light of my wearing, after Nov. 9, the sticker pegging me as a Georgia voter.

How can I tell if this cucumber has my best interests in mind, and how can I trust anyone in authority that I might query in such regard to honor my privacy, not to mention my innocence in asking such questions?

Worried (in an Undisclosed Location)


Do not be tempted to think ill of these seeds just because of their namesake. They’re probably named as such for reasons completely unrelated to sourcing—for example, the cucumber is native to India, with the Brown Russian variety originating in central Asia, not Russia on the nose.

I recommend directly contacting heirloom sellers like High Mowing Organic Seeds or Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for a politics-free lead on these rare seeds. I’m also someone who’s hung up on shopping local, but I think you’re gonna have to go online to get your hands on seeds this rare. I Googled them myself and found plenty of reputable sites selling them, but call by phone to avoid all the noise of the internet and annoying pop-up ads.

I’d also like to say that, however serious your letter is meant to be, what people eat and grow in their own yard shouldn’t have any effect on how others perceive their patriotism. That’s really nobody’s business, unless you’re running for political office. 

Hi Bonita,

Love your column and the advice you gave about yoga [June 14]. The only thing I would add is that the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) has a Center for Active Living (CAL). For a very low annual fee, members can take many classes, including yoga four days a week at varying times. Lots of us friendly silver foxes there.

Thank you for the information! I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t think of the Center for Active Living, because I used to work at a place that regularly donated goods and services to them. Dear reader, their website is, and you can find their facilities located at 135 Hoyt St. 

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