Last summer everybody and their brother worked diligently on how to plant, harvest, and preserve their own vegetables because we thought the end of the world was knocking on our door. I got as nervous as they did, and asked my husband to build me a little fenced-in garden spot in our backyard.
It was sweet. First he put in a bed and filled it with soil and then he put one of those cute little wire fences around it to keep the deer out. Then I chose some plants and got some from friends to get myself started. That’s when I should’ve read a book, or at least searched “planting a vegetable garden” on YouTube. Instead, I barreled ahead like I was born with a green thumb and put in two kinds of kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cilantro. This is where I should admit that my garden bed was about 3 x 5 feet. I proceeded to plant 45 plants in it.
My son watered the garden sometimes, my husband watered it sometimes. I put on the knee pads we had bought for the project and picked some weeds out of the spot — not really knowing what was a weed and what was a future meal. Finally after about three weeks, I gave up altogether. Now it’s an overgrown mess that none of us want to contend with.
I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ve never been able to make anything green grow, from the houseplants I tried to nurture when I moved off to college to the dozens of basil plants I pick up from the grocery store. Nothing lives. I’ve decided I like the idea of growing vegetables far more than I like the actual growing of them. Growing your own food, fishing and eating what you catch, that all sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Reminds us of our parents and grandparents and theirs before that. If they did it, I’m sure I could. Except I don’t.
This summer I’m going to enjoy looking at my friends’ gardens. I’m going to plant a few flowers in the front yard, because they provide instant gratification. Reality has set in and I know it’s useless to try to put a garden in when I truly lack the energy to follow through. Gardens are like pets. You have to pay attention to them, talk to them, fill their bowl with water, keep them tidy and give them little treats sometimes.
Another byproduct of my untended garden is the fact that now the rest of my family can hold this failure up and shine a bright light on it whenever they want. I played right into their hands. “Mom, why don’t you go out and pick some cilantro to go on the fish tacos,” they say. “Oh, I forgot. You killed everything in the garden.” Hee-haw laughter ensues.
That’s OK, there are lots of things I can do, like whip up their favorite dinner or pick them up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when they need one. All those things that don’t require me putting on sunscreen or getting dirty fingernails, I’m fine with those things.
Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t plant things that you know you’ll never harvest.