Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Incompetent Gardener, Part II

I had a dream a year ago, before our baby was born that by this time I would no longer be the incompetent gardener. I dreamed that our whole yard would be edible and that I would have a rotation of plants that produced seasonal, organic food to supplement our regular groceries. I dreamed of turning our food waste into compost and using that compost to fertilize our garden, thereby avoiding pesticides and chemical fertilizers. But with childcare, my forty-hour work week, and MaGreen preparing for her doctoral degree exams, our yard looks rather pathetic. And BabyG has strep right now.

My garden plots are mostly overgrown with weeds. The six tomato plants I bought never produced a single tomato. They are scraggly vines. I should pull them all out, but I just look at them with disappointment every time I park my bicycle by the side of the house. The seeds I bought from Bountiful Gardens are slowly becoming unviable in the refrigerator.

Even the hardy chard and dill plants I wrote about in my last installment of The Incompetent Gardener finally died. It was these two survivors that "renewed my enthusiasm not only for gardening, but for the whole green parenting project." I was again on the verge of giving up on gardening altogether as a silly romantic yearning. Then one afternoon my neighbor gave me new hope. I'm not sure neighbor is the right word. He shares a long wall with us in the split duplex we live in. He is a union electrician and is given to walking around the property aimlessly, poking at the ground, or talking to the sky. When I saw him that one afternoon, he showed me his latest discovery, an oak seedling growing next to my tomato patch. Although my soil improvement and constant watering did not produce any tomatoes, a little oak tree thrived because of my efforts. A beautiful and momentous accident. I really want that seedling to grow up with BabyG, so I can tell her they were born around the same time and that were babies together. I dug it out of the ground and potted it in my compost so I can move it to a perfect spot this winter.

A few other survivors of my incompetence subsequently kept my hope alive. I planted an eggplant plant from the store and it grew huge. It has produced three eggplants in the same number of months. What I value about that eggplant is not the food it has produced, but that I have closely witnessed for the first time in my life how a flower turns into a fruit (or vegetable or berry or whatever it is). I am embarrassed to admit that I never saw how the blossom closes up and then slowly starts to fill out. How it takes on the purple color.

Another survivor is this basil plant we brought home from Whole Foods and stuck into the ground. It was destroyed by a tree trimming service we hired. I think they ran over it with a machine. MaGreen harvested the crushed plant down to a stump. Our neighbor really wanted the plant to live because he used the leaves in his salsa. I think his cravings coaxed the basil, and my gardening dreams, back to life


Anonymous said...

Life is about balance. Considering your ummm....obsession on all that is green, I'd say you need 4...make that 5 more children before you understand what is important in life and obsess on that. On the other hand, I wish you would stop reproducing all together.

What is it about you as a couple which makes you feel the need to control your world in such odd ways?

Did Grandma die smoking in her rocking chair? Did your momma and daddy ignore your needs?

I want to understand extremism.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this blog while I was looking for natural cleaning products and am very happy I did. Not only does this blog have useful information, but it is very well written and interesting. I'm sure you don't fret it, but I wanted to let you know that the previous comment(er) is ignorant and obviously doesn't understand what you have written at all. The part I like most about your blogging is that you are NOT an extremist. It seems to me that you are being realistic and doing things to help the evironment that YOU can do regularly. I know one person cannot save the earth...but you've inspired me. So that makes two of us. I'm sure there are more people that you have inspired and I really hope that I can inspire someone. Even if its just getting someoe to recycle...its something. Keep up the good work and I'll keep reading!

GreenDaddy said...

Thanks anonymous.