Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Humility Strikes Again

“Mom, next year, don’t plant pumpkins.”  My 11-year-old, fresh from fifth grade, is now dispensing gardening advice to me, his mother, the horticulturist.  I should instruct him on respecting his elders, but he’s right.  The pumpkins were a mistake.  They made the 2012 bloopers reel:

The Plague of Pumpkins.  “What fun it would be to carve home-grown jack-o-lanterns this October!  And think of the savings!”  These were the thoughts that led me to pick up two adorable little pumpkin starts this spring.  The info tag failed to mention that those two small plants would cover an area roughly the size of a city block with their prickly, rambling growth.

Before the takeover....note the unsuspecting onion to the right

Ten minutes (so it seemed) after I planted them, the vines swamped our bonfire pit.  Somewhere, floating fathoms below are the makings of a terrific wienie roast.  They violated the hallowed ground of my tomato harvest with their thistly vines and prickled up my picking.  They steam-rolled the Candy onions, burying their lush, green tops in a jungle of bristles. 

All of this would be a consideration if there were pumpkins growing on these vines.  If.  The flowers failed to pollinate.   There hasn’t been one love connection between Mister and Miss Pumpkin flower.  I could play matchmaker, but who wants to wade into knee-deep thistle-vines? 

Who needs smores when you've got pumpkin blossoms?

Cursed pumpkins.  You are worth whatever I have to pay in October.  I will not be growing you again.  Until, of course, the gardening amnesia sets in…

Big on Taste, Short on Supply.  I have slowly been wooed by basil.  It began several years ago, with a bite of Amy’s Pesto Pizza.  One taste, and I made a pact with myself to look at neither the serving size, nor the fat content listed on the box.  Then, with a clear conscience, I ate the whole thing by myself. 

This spring, I tried Panera’s Mediterranean Egg White on Ciabatta, a refined culinary description for what amounts to an herbal hallucinogen.  The pesto slathered on that sandwich MADE me plant basil.  One minute I was brunching with a friend, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting in my garden, a trowel in one hand and basil in the other. 

But the final straw was The $64 Tomato, by William Alexander.  Funniest gardening book I have EVER read, by the way.  Last week, I made his Caprese Salad.  This delightful combination of basil, garlic, pasta, tomato and mozzarella took a chunk out of my basil supply.  That was an herb well spent, but I need to plant more, much more.  Or steal some.  I could be on the road to a life of crime. 

Leafy deliciousness

Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail.  The month of May brought with it a newly expanded vegetable garden for yours truly.  With all that square footage of potential yawning before me, what did I do?  Planted my tomatoes too close together.  Without fail, I always underestimate the size of a mature tomato plant.  It must be some sort of neurological disorder.  Had I three rolling acres of vegetable beds, there’s no doubt the tomatoes would still end up too close together.  This year’s crop of six plants has morphed into one giant tomato hut, similar to the darling green bean/sunflower tents you may have seen in children’s gardens.  Only this structure, having no discernable entrance, requires a thirty-something woman to belly crawl inside to harvest her out-of-reach Romas.  Enchanting. 

Buried Treasure

Assuming procrastination doesn’t get the better of me (and let’s face it, that’s a stretch), I’ll be working out a pre-emptive strike on the 2013 garden plan while the mistakes of 2012 are still fresh in my mind.  My goal: no reruns in next year's blooper reel.  


Casa Mariposa said...

Growing pumpkins requires buying extra land, which makes the cheap little seed packet a complete scam. I have wimpy basil this year because it's planted with my parsley and they don't like each other. One wants moisture while the other is praying for drought. Oops! As a previous owner of a tomato hut, I agree they're overrated!

Lyn said...

But I love the way pumpkin vines just run amok and cover everything! They are like some alien plant invasion, very exciting. Mine start in the vegie garden but grow all over the lawn. Actual pumpkins are a bonus. I do agree, though, that you can't grow too much basil. And my tomatoes are always too close together too, no matter how much I try to spread them out.

Design to Grow said...

I've seen tomatoes grown in a tidy manner. I know it must be possible. But it just isn't in God's plan for me, or either of you, apparently. Glad we're on this garden path together!

My pumpkins did finally set fruit. I found 2 developing along the vine. The next day, the vine was wilting. So there you go: it was just not meant to happen. Grrrrr.

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