Friday, June 29, 2007

Gardenage, Pt. II

It's been exactly three weeks since my previous garden report, so we're due for an update.

My cucumber seedlings have been sitting on their mud hills like idiots, unwilling to grow, unwilling to send out tendrils and grasp their tomato-cage supports. It's taken all this time for them to grow a couple of permanent leaves on each seedling. The cucumbers' attitude reminds me of trying to get a teenaged child to clean his/her room.

The tomato plants, on the other hand, are big and bushy, with strong stalks and lush green healthy leaves. They keep making flowers, which get pinched off immediately; the plants need to grow about another foot before making fruit. There are two Roma plants and one cherry. I've never had much luck with the big, round tomatoes. Anyway, Daisy the Terrier used to go crazy every time we picked the round ones. She always thought they were red tennis balls, and she frantically demanded they be thrown across the yard for her to catch in her mouth.

I replanted some bush bean seeds, and this time they all came up. Some had to be discarded during thinning, but I tried transplanting some of them to various spots in the garden, and they seem to be taking root. There's always the horrifying prospect of a proximal bush bean plant mating with a tomato plant when no one is looking, yielding young beanmatoes (or togreenbeans). We would probably opt for a quick trip to the Home for Wayward Bush Beans in that event.

We have enough basil, thyme, dill and parsley to supply the neighborhood. There's something so wonderful about going out to the garden to get fresh herbs for cooking. We can pick the exact amount we need and not worry about wasting big wads of expensive, unused supermarket herbs.

Fresh herbs or not, the weather's been so hot and sticky that no one (me, in particular) has wanted to cook or eat much around here. We've been sluggish, hiding in the air conditioning and unable to summon up much enthusiasm for any outdoor activity. The heatwave is due to break tonight, just in time for Mr. Pseudonym's long-awaited vacation. He's had his nose to the grindstone for far too long, so I'll try to arrange some nice little day trips for this coming week.

There's a place in Pennsylvania I've always wanted to visit:
Longwood Gardens is a horticultural masterpiece--1,050 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens, conservatories, fountains, woodlands and meadows. It was a favorite day trip for my beloved late aunts, Shirley and Rose. Perhaps their spirits still stop in at Longwood to pick up fallen seeds from the ground and wrap them in Kleenex for planting at home.

My mother had a green thumb and at one time actually sold live plants she grew herself. She made window boxes and dish gardens, selling them at our local farmers' market back when my brothers and I were quite young. She moved on to more lucrative businesses over the years, but she always enjoyed her many plants at home.

My aunts, on the other hand, weren't really into growing green things. I can't recall ever seeing a houseplant in Shirley's house, although she did grow some flowering plants in a tiny outdoor garden when she lived on 26th Street in Philadelphia. When they were down visiting, Rose would sometimes snap off a stem from one of my mother's bushy houseplants and take it home for potting.

In her apartment, Rose had several glass jars in the kitchen windows containing masses of tangled, overgrown plant stems she had put in water to root. She never rotated these jars, nor did she rotate the pots she had in her bedroom windows. The plants were tall and spindly from seeking light, all of the leaves faced in the same direction and there was a constant showering of dead brown leaves on the window sills. Rose's little indoor displays were the most depressing use of houseplants I had ever seen. These haggard stems looked like prisoners hanging on to the metal bars of their cells--incarcerated, defeated, no hope, no future.

I'm so glad I've inherited my mother's green thumb, as has my middle daughter
Pixie. Pixie loves all living things, and she always has a garden in the back court of her apartment building. Pixie is also the daughter who looks the most like me and like her late Grandma. It's those Romanian genes, I tellya!


Junket said...

I think I inherited Aunt Shirley's black thumb, then, because that Carnivorous Garden I bought never grew, despite me following the instructions to a tee. You probably would have wrapped the whole thing in blankets or something, producing lush, snapping venus fly traps and pitcher plants. Damn yooooouuu! *waves cane*

Anonymous said...

I remember the first time I saw Aunt Rose's house plants plastered up against the window, like they were trying to escape. Your mother was a genius with house plants. She was the only person I knew who could get a decent plant from an avacado pit.

Jo said...

I feel freed from the guilt. We live in an apartment now, so I don't need to make myself go tend to the yard/garden. And I don't miss it bit. Sorry, gardening is just not my thing. Although I do love to eat produce from other people's gardens!

Jo said...

I have adopted your daughter and I am going to stuff her in a suitcase and take her home to Utah with me. Say goodbye to your little darling, she is MINE now! Bwwaaahaaahaaa!
P.S. She is so tiny, I am sure she will fit in my carry on.

Caustic Cupcake said...