Garden battle: Round Two

Now's the time to 'fess up. "Is that the truth or a big fat lie?" That's something a former co-worker used
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Now's the time to 'fess up.

"Is that the truth or a big fat lie?" That's something a former co-worker used to ask me. I don't know why; I don't think I ever told him a fib. Perhaps he could sense my potential as a prevaricator, for it seems I have indeed told a big fat lie -- to you.

Please forgive me. I am truly sorry, but along with my apology I offer this defense: When I told you I was through with gardening, I sincerely meant it. Through as in done, fini, kaput. No more digging, no more dirt under my fingernails, no more disappointments.

But then the catalogs started coming. Then the garden centers started advertising. And I began thinking, "Never in my adult life have I not had at least one tomato plant." And, "Wouldn't it be nice to add some color to that spot over there?" And, "What about the hummingbirds I like so much -- will they still visit with only a feeder and no nectar from real live flowers?"

And so I tried again. I bought these clever little balls of wildflower and sunflower seeds -- the theory is that you just drop 'em in the dirt, water 'em daily and watch 'em grow. Nice theory. I didn't get so much as a sprout. And I swear I did everything I was supposed to. On the plus side, the company refunded my money, no questions asked. I thought that was pretty cool.

Oh yes, I did try. Given that we hadn't allowed an area for a vegetable garden, I also purchased one of those upside-down-tomato-planter thingies. I have never... er, had never, killed a tomato plant 'til this year. Total casualties: four in the upside-down-thingy, plus one I bought in July that was so fried already, P. Allen Smith and a team of paramedics couldn't have brought it back to life. This one I planted it in the ground, not the upside-down thingy. It croaked too. As I mentioned, it was a goner before I ever touched it but at that point I still had hope. Now I'm pretty sure when the tomato plants see me coming in the greenhouse they all start shrieking, "Not me, not me, dear God, don't let her pick me!"

As if the demise of five tomato plants isn't bad enough, don't forget that I come from a family of green thumbs, all of whom could probably grow a Giant Sequoia from a seed in a peat pot and a little water. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but after all my efforts failed, I started feeling I'd be lucky if I could grow mold on bread. Very disheartening...

I'm not giving up on that upside-down contraption though. It's a matter of principle. Actually, I'm fairly certain I overwatered every single one of those poor plants. I'll know better next time. You think I would have caught on sooner. Or at least have been embarrassed enough to throw in the towel. But no, I kept trying, even though I had to confess to my mom that I'd killed both of the plants she'd given me. And speaking of trying, I think I may have been on the verge of trying my husband's patience, as I concluded every couple weeks that the upside-down tomato plant would surely thrive if we just moved it over here. Or there. Or maybe there... Why was he involved? Because moving twenty lbs. of wet dirt suspended from a wire is a rather tricky task when you're trying not to crush a tender young plant under it. All that work and he doesn't even like tomatoes. (Thanks honey!)

In more current news, the Red Beauty Kiwi I accidentally planted has not yet decided whether to remain in my company or to give up the ghost. Yes, I said accidentally. Don't ask, it's a long story. And yes, if you're thinking I might as well just add "killer" to "big fat liar" on my resume, I know. I've already considered that. Those greedy old Japanese Beetles will certainly attest to my evil ways. Yeah, I had an invasion of those this summer too. Like I need the help of a bunch of destructive bugs. As if I hadn't done enough damage on my own.

The news from the garden isn't all bad though. There were a couple things I didn't annihilate. We'll talk about those next week. And if I have any consolation at all, the hummingbirds don't mind hanging out with me, even with the shady reputation I seem to be cultivating...