Friday, May 10, 2013

How Does My Garden Grow?

It doesn’t, frankly, at least not for very long. In January I ordered some heirloom seeds online because that is what homesteaders do, right? I was really nervous about all the details since I have no idea what I am doing, and seed packets have only one or two sentences of explanation. I kept reading each seed packet over and over again to try to come up with a plan. I felt lost. The fifth time I started reading each pack I thought, “What am I doing?” I don’t think most people try to memorize seed packets and close their eyes to see if they remember how soon after last frost to put them in the ground. But that’s what I was doing. Then I decided to just paraphrase what the packet said in my own words and write the summary on the front of each packet. I don’t know why; I guess because I have a strange compulsion to make things very complicated. Then I went through each packet and put them in order of when they should be sown based on my summaries. Then I reread all my summaries and figured out that January 24th would be my first date of sowing. 

Of course I did nothing on that day. But eventually I did start some red bell pepper plants in a couple containers in my living room that I planned to transplant outside. The packet said to surface sow. I guessed that meant to sort of just drop them in or barely cover…I wasn’t sure which. So I just gave a handful of seeds to my 2-year-old and had her drop them in. Then we sort of rolled our hands around in the soil. I figured out of the 20 or so we dropped in, certainly 1 or 2 would be the right depth. I put the two pots in front of a window and moved on with my life. 

A few weeks later I planted some broccoli and cauliflower in big pots in the garage with the intention of moving them outside once the weather warmed up. I kind of forgot about them. One grew really leggy, and the other never germinated. I moved them both outside regardless, and nothing is really happening on that front. Big surprise.

I also planted some spinach in a little round flower bed in our back yard, which is not fun to do when it is 40 degrees outside with a toddler, and your infant is inside sleeping which he usually only does for no more than 15 minutes at a time. I majorly rushed through the whole thing, not even reading the seed packet while doing it. Despite that, a few weeks later the spinach was actually doing okay, I think. There were several different things growing in there, and I am confident at least one of them was spinach. Add "distinguishing between weeds and what you actually want to grow" to the list of skills I should acquire.

A few weeks ago while my parents were visiting, I had my dad help transplant the peppers to our front door flower bed since I had no idea how to do it. He asked me how my other stuff was doing. I mentioned to him that the spinach out back was the only thing that might actually have a chance. His face totally fell.

“That round little bed by the swing set?”


“I’m sorry.”

He looked the way you would expect a good father to look as he is delivering the news that he has crushed his baby girl’s dreams beyond all repair. 

“Violet kept wanting me to jump up and down in it, so we did. I didn't realize you had planted anything there. Sorry. Whatever was there is definitely gone now. I’m really sorry.”

See, I have a 2-year-old, and she is very bossy. My parents are very easy-going and loving people, so they do exactly as she commands them with no complaint and no regard for reason. 

I pretty much just gave up after that. My dad felt really guilty, but I thought it was a more glorious death for the spinach than what was otherwise in store for it. To make it up to me, he brought me up some well grown, robust tomato plants from his garden. He actually has gardening skills. They are still alive, but not producing or growing. They only look a little sad. I watered them today for the first time since he brought them a couple weeks ago. His at home which are the exact same age are producing little green tomatoes right now. Not mine. What a shocker. I am starting to think that watering may be my problem, like maybe I should do it every day or something. Currently I water once every couple weeks at most, or after they are dead, or more commonly never. That plan just has not been working for me.

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