The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Garden Woes

Can we talk about my garden? Yes, that garden.

I just… I need to voice my frustrations for a second. The thing is, I think I’ve fallen victim to the all-too-common malady of Idealized Expectations. My early symptoms were:

1. Day-dreaming about how we would soon live off our own land. We would harvest our own produce for all our meals, which would be cheaper and more delicious because of it. We might even open our own roadside shop and sell our produce in adorable baskets tied with pretty ribbons.

2. Obsessively checking on my plants, wondering: Do they need more water? Is that a tiny little bell pepper I see starting to form? Do the plants like it better when I sing Lady Gaga or Simon and Garfunkel to them?

3. Fretting over every wilting or brown leaf.

4. Photographing every new veggie that sprouted and planning elaborate and time-intensive art projects involving time lapse.

Now, disillusionment has begun to creep in. I’m starting to doubt my abilities. I’m starting to wonder if I really have what it takes to be a gardener. How am I going to run a quaint roadside stand when this is going on in my backyard:

I’m pretty sure that pepper plant isn’t supposed to lay down on the ground like that. I mean, I could be wrong, maybe it’s a special limboing varietal. But I kind of don’t think so.

So… that last row of onions? That’s exactly the same type as each of the other two rows? Is it like the shorter sister row of the other the other two freakishly tall sibling rows? Or is it just dying for some reason I cannot comprehend? That actually seems more likely, huh?

Ah yes, black jalapenos. That’s probably healthy and normal.

What in the hell is wrong with my eggplant? That enormous disfiguring scar is totally ruining my time-lapse project. Not that it makes me love it less. I’m not heartless and totally shallow. It’s still a lovely and amazing product of my garden. That is possibly infested with insects eating it from the inside out.

One of my idiot cats has taken to ‘fertilizing’ the garden beds every time we let him outside. If I can figure out which one it is I’m going to put him on a leash and tether him to the middle of our yard and let the humming birds tease and humiliate him. (Yes, I just put a picture of cat crap on the internet. This is a klassy website.)

And if I catch the m*&%^#%&#@&*$ birds doing this, I’m going to tether them to a stake in my yard just within reach of the idiot cat. Goddamn birds. Did you plant the tomatoes and water them and sing Bridge Over Troubled Water to them? No? I didn’t think so. Then you don’t have the right to eat them.

Speaking of the bird-munched Early Girl plant, it hasn’t been looking its healthiest in general lately. We found it laying on the ground almost dead a couple of days ago and launched a CSI investigation into the crime of attempted tomato homicide. We were able to reconstruct an incident that involved small child foot stomping. The culprit confessed when we threatened to not be his best friend anymore if he didn’t tell us the truth (Jonas has taken to calling everyone his best friend lately. Mostly only when he wants something).

Jason decided to put the plant on life support by amputating the section that couldn’t be saved and trimming down the tomato cages to make them low enough to support the portion of the plant that may survive. To do this he had to use a metal saw to shorten the legs. I probably shouldn’t have been shocked when he came barreling through the back door 2 minutes after he went to do this and headed straight for the bathroom shouting for me to follow. I’m pretty sure his eye and my soul are still scarred from the 10 minutes I spent picking the shard of metal out of his eyeball, but hey, we learned an important lesson: you really should wear protective eye gear when operating a metal saw.

My friend told me if we keep the tomatoes on the vine and bring them inside they might turn red and be edible. It’s been two days, though, and they’re just starting to get mushy and attract bugs. I think I’m going to force-feed them to Jonas as his punishment.

And last, but certainly not least in magnitude of causing my frustration, is this lovely Cherokee Purple Heirloom tomato plant. Isn’t it tall and pretty? And totally barren? No really, it won’t, even if I promise to buy it an expensive bottle of wine to go with it when I make sauce out of its fruit, grow tomatoes. It’s as stubborn as a 13 year old girl with no boobs who wants a training bra anyway because her all friends have them (not that I’m speaking from personal experience. Ahem.).

See there? It grows flowers and everything, but they they just break off right at the stem and fall to the ground. Unfailingly. And I know less about bugs than I even do about plants, but yes, that’s a little wormy thing on the stem there. I’m sure that’s a good thing, right? When people say, ‘tomato worms’ it’s usually with a positive connotation, right?

It’s possible I was meant to be city folk. I might be a failed farmer.





12 Responses to Garden Woes

  1. I am so glad I am not the only one. But all in all it looks pretty good. And be proud of yourself, most people don’t even get to the black jalapeno stage. But it also seems you have an insect issue. A lot of that damage looks to be caused by insects living under the soil. I would consider doing some companion planting, spraying some beneficial nematodes and augmenting the soil. A local nursery should be able to give you some advice. At least that is what helped in my garden. Just keep at it.

    • Dan you just used like 5 words I don’t know the definitions of. But I will write them down and bring them to my local nursery. Thanks for the help!

      • What Dan said. Also, you can “beat your tomato plants with a newspaper when they’re flowering (LIGHTLY!). Helps with pollination or something. Seems to work, I swear. Or it helps vent frustrations. It’s whatever.

  2. this is why I don’t have a garden. when I DO manage to grow something that looks edible (read: radishes! big and red and look like they do at the farmer’s market!) they don’t actually turn out to BE edible (read: you have flashbacks to when your mom used liquid dial to wash your mouth out with soap combined with that one time you thought it would be interesting to see what pepper tasted like…by the spoonful).

    it all looks mostly lovely and green, though, so you’re way ahead of the game in my book!

    • So they can look right and still taste like shit? This is not good. Another thing to worry about.

  3. Metallic ribbon tied to the tomato cages can help with the birds (although, i REALLY like the idea of tying the cat to the garden…). For the bugs on the leaves of the plants, Kelli used to tell me to spray them with cayenne pepper diluted in water in a spray bottle. And finally, if you see a little caterpillar/worm thing on your tomato plants, chop that little bastard in half with your pruning shears/scissors immediately as he will eat every leaf he can find (and then maybe feed it to Jonas as punishment as well.).

    • Ah Adam. You’ve got a solution for everything! I love it! I’m gonna get right on it!

  4. Soooo sorry Liz! this is exactly the reason why I am so scared of gardening. I did however start an herb garden in a terra-cotta planter… all seems well with herbs.. except my cilantro isn’t growing as fast as I need it. I think I will stick with the herbs until I get those right and then move forward. Thoroughly interested on what happens next!!!

  5. Great suggestions by all for plants, little humans, and animals alike. I think it looks good for your first time out. And remember that some of your produce may have flaws because you have not saturated them with chemicals. Keep at it and try new things and abandon what doesn’t work. It’s just like flowers and bushes. Some things grow and some don’t.

  6. You make us smile. Uncle Jim and I are still laughing this early am. As Uncle Jim says, “it’s not easy to feed the world.” Just keep trying! When you get to the cute baskets-your Mom and I can really help. Thanks for the smile. Aunt Peg

  7. Dear Adam, When you leave my gardening tips on another blog, I have nothing left.

    Just kidding.

    Gardening blabber mouth extraordinaire here to say: gardening is 80% frustration, 20% licking your fingers over the very best pesto/salsa/eggplant parmesan you’ve ever had. So keep trying. And yes, spray some vinegar or cayenne on those plants stat.

    On a separate note, the color of the tomatoes and that line of onions is telling me your soil isn’t right. Coffee grounds, compost (from Laura, possibly) and a lot of water should help.

  8. Pingback: Gardening Update (What, You Thought I Forgot I Have One?) – Real Estate Tangent

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