I can't grow things. This is one of the basic facts of my life. If someone gives me a living plant, my only goal is to find someone else to give it to before my black thumb miasma begins to affect it and it loses its will to live. (Sometimes you can see our gift plants actively wilting the second they realize who their new owner is.) Our sole houseplant is one my mother gave to us when we bought our first house. It is an extremely accommodating plant, because it does not need much water, light, soil, or attention, and can survive for months apparently off of air alone. (We haven't been able to test it in vacuum, but I am pretty sure it would do fine without the air, too.) If I knew what it was, I would buy more, but I don't, so I just try to remember to water it every few weeks or so.
But last year, our neighbor across the street from our old house was offering small tomato plants for fifty cents each, and for some reason I bought some. I put them in containers we had left from previous growing experiments (the herb garden that the dog ate when she was puppy, the strawberry plants that never took), and watered them regularly, and after some time, we got tomatoes. Not a lot, but they were extremely tasty. The earthling loved
Then, in the middle of the summer, we moved. Our tomato plants did not survive.
In our new house, we don't have a gardening neighbor, but we do have an empty place where the pond used to be. (The previous owners had a fishpond. We have a toddler. One of our first moves was to remove the fishpond before the earthling fell into it.) We also have a sort of raised bed and a bunch of pots that used to have flowers before the old owners left them unattended for two months, meaning that we had to remove a lot of flower carcasses when we moved in.
So this year, I have planted many things, largely in a spirit of experimentation, and because the earthling likes buying seed kits. Our success has been - well. The raised bed now contains zucchini and tomatoes, and two things are obvious about it:
- I didn't space the plants right.
- I missed the notation on the zucchini label that said "evil, carnivorous, mutant variety, bred by mad scientists to meet your world domination needs."
The raised bed is a solid mass of greenery. Most of the individual zucchini leaves are large enough that we could sew outfits for the earthling out of them, if they weren't covered in prickles. I swear the zucchini plants move; I see them shifting out of the corner of my eye, and each day they have visibly grown. One of them appears to be trying to launch itself out of the bed entirely. The tomato plants are now pressed against the wall and growing for their lives; they are acting like vines and growing up the wall of our house, and they have grown with such vigor they've actually uprooted the trellises they were supposed to use as supports. (The trellises are just kind of floating on a sea of green, now. I would pull them out, but I think the tomato plants would fight me for them. And they'd win.) The bed, what I can see of it by cautiously poking the zucchini and tomato leaves aside, is entirely free of weeds. The zucchini plants are probably eating them.
We have given up all hope of getting actual produce from this bed (there are zucchini and small green tomatoes in there, but I have no idea how I could pick them once ripe without risk to my limbs), and are providing the plants with all the water and food they want solely because we're afraid that if we don't we'll wake up one morning to find they've broken in through the windows and taken over the living room. We also try to keep the earthling away, because I am pretty sure I've seen green tendrils reach out for him when he walks by.
Elsewhere, we have green beans, which would definitely take the Most Terrifying Vegetable award if the zucchini-tomato mass hadn't redefined our concept of fear of green matter. Even the seeds were scary - giant and bulbous - and when they sprouted, they visibly distorted their peat pots. We had to transplant them within the week, with no hardening, because they were trying to climb up the blinds, and now they defy all attempts to train them to climb up their trellis; they're basically a giant bush of bean plants. The flowers are very pretty, though, and they haven't actually tried to eat anyone, so they are definitely taking second in the scary garden sweepstakes.
Third place is held by the pumpkin plant, which seems to double in size every two days or so and at this rate will be taking over most of the U.S. by the end of the summer. I realize that this sounds
like a major threat, but don't worry; there's only about twenty feet between the pumpkin plant and the zucchini-tomato mass, so before it takes over, it's going to get eaten by the mutants. Again, I am not expecting actual pumpkins to come out of this. It seems to be wholly invested in producing leaves rather than fruits.
I tell you what: gardening is a whole lot easier in Harvest Moon videogames.
Anyway. We have some other things growing - herbs and so on. We've actually managed to get some strawberries from our strawberry plants, such that the earthling, if you say, "Do you want a strawberry?" will run to the back door with his mouth open, and every day he goes hopefully to the strawberry bed and signs, "Please, more, please, more, food to eat?" But mostly we are going to count ourselves well off if we all live through this gardening experiment.
And I keep searching for gardening communities on LJ and DW, but when I find them, they're all full of posts about fully utilizing your zone 3 gardening space, or permaculture, or forcing, which sounds bad but apparently is okay if you do it to plants. There are never any desperate posts that say, "Oh god the plants - the plants - they're COMING FOR ME. What do I do? Would a baseball bat work? I don't have a flamethrower!" Everyone else seems to be sedately growing food and flowers, instead of cowering before a mutant green strike force.
But I figure I can't be alone in this. Someone else out there has to be experimenting with gardening and mostly failing, right? Right?
So, a poll. (Southern hemisphere types, I realize that this is out of synch for you. Do your best.)
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 233
Are you growing or have you grown any of your own food this year?
In terms of total volume cultivated, how would you describe your garden?
In terms of actual gardening skill, how would you assess yourself?
What should I do about my garden?