Growing In The Garden


I was so excited a couple of months ago. I was getting ready to commune with Mother Earth on a big scale. I was going to start a vegetable garden and compost heapColOrchard_A to remind me of the primal me. I would be able to make it through the summer with all the edibles I would plant. And, plant I did and, learn I did. Let’s start with the vegetables.

Who knew carrots had to have a clear, unobstructed pathway through the soil in order to grow nice and straight? I never read that anywhere so how was I to know? I was so thrilled to see those chubby little stubs of orange peeking out from the soil. I could now say I was a gardener—and mean it. But sadly, there were pebbles, rocks and whatever else lurks under that soil that turned those cherubic midgets into gnarly somethings. It seems that anything in their way will corrupt their growth pattern. I think my carrots hit the mother lode of obstacles: I now have something with fluffy green ends sticking out of the soil. I fear to pull them out judging by what they look like on the top. Forget about serving them in a meal. I’ll give them—and me—more time to adjust to their shapes. 

Oh, kale, you fooled me. I planted a few different types and was in for a surprise. Some were so bitter but, one was so femininely sweet that it made it to the salad almost nightly. There were two really large, angry looking kales that were pulled out and recycled. I almost had to WWE-style wrestle them out of the bed. But I won. They’re not coming back next year. Some guests weren’t meant to return.

Popeye and spinach are synonymous with strength. Uh, not in my garden patch. After a few summer meals, sadly, I forgot about them. They were actually really good. They ultimately grew into some kind of green towers. I wasn’t looking for a new vegetable so I decided to let Mother Nature take care of them. She is. They’re still growing upwards, but I’m not taking a chance on their taste quotient. I’ll pay attention next year and give it another try next summer.

Green beans and green peppers are out there somewhere in the midst of all those green leaves. I think tomorrow I’ll go out and rescue them. I’m hoping they haven’t turned old-agey on me. I’m wondering if veggies can get vengeful and turn bitter if you ignore them? I know people like that.

Lettuce entertain you. And they certainly did. The purple ones were a huge success and most of the greens were also. Lots of salads this summer. I did supplement with iceberg lettuce to fluff them up a bit. I was going for the “look at our summer bounty” image at the table. There were only two of us at the table, but hey, company may walk in. These I’ll plant again.
Oh, I can’t forget the tomatoes. I planted every kind you could imagine. I was going for the chubby Italian-mother-look gleaming at her bounty and imaging the sauces she was going to make when I deposited those little plastic surrounds into the earth. If only I had looked really closely at the instructions instead of the bold face type instructing me to “plant the whole pot,” which is what I did. Who knew the plastic surround had to come off first? My tomatoes are pathetic. I’ve eaten two cherry ones from one of the stunted excuses of a plant that I have. Next year I’ll wear glasses when I go to plant things.

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M.E. Orchard is a columnist for Levittown Tribune.


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