Growing things

By Mir
May 10, 2010

I had big plans for this weekend, people. BIG PLANS. I was going to get a ton of work done, and have quality time with my family, and get the rest of my seedlings into the garden, finally, and it was all going to be spectacular.

I got almost no work done, but I bet you already knew that.

I’m not entirely sure how one defines “quality time,” but we’ll just agree to accept “going to the grocery store and arguing about high fructose corn syrup” and “letting my daughter ‘fix’ my hair for me” as quality. Really, I mean, this stuff is what life is made of. Or something.

Also, it’s been incredibly hot here, so my husband and I opened the pool, much to the delight of the small people who live here. Because no one ever remembers that 1) it takes a while to make the pool ready for use and 2) even when it’s 95 degrees out, a long winter means the water in the pool is still pretty cold.

Here’s the thing open opening the pool: It sounds very fancy and grandiose. “We’re opening the pool.” In reality, it means that we peel back the cover and then stand around staring into the murk, trying not to barf.

We had a very rainy winter, followed by the worst pollen season EVER, and so as a result, the carefully controlled chemical stasis we supposedly put the pool into last Fall was completely upended; we had to pump water out multiple times over the winter to prevent flooding (diluting the chemicals), and despite our fancy “filtering” cover, the pool water was approximately 50% pollen-fueled algae.

Me, I find this terribly depressing. The pool cover was expensive, pool chemicals are expensive, and it seems like no matter what we do, every year the pool is disgusting when we open it. Then we spend a ton of time and money getting it ready for swimming and Otto cracks jokes about filling it in with dirt and koi.

So I helped with the pool some, and then I worked on the garden some, where—as always—I’m completely mystified by what grows and what doesn’t. Like, I apparently cannot grow spinach to save my life. Why? No idea. I plant it with other things that can give it shade, but it doesn’t matter. Spinach hates me. Meanwhile, I had a thriving cucumber sprout that up and died overnight for no obvious reason, and because the other ones I’d planted had never sprouted at all, I planted a ton of seeds to replace them, and ALL of those sprouted almost immediately. Now I should probably thin them out, but I’m not ready to do it because who knows if they’ll all just spontaneously DIE, anyway.

Meanwhile, my seedlings are making me insane. Every time I think they’re ready to be planted, I’ll find one of the tomatoes slumped over, listless, or one of the pepper plants starts turning yellow. THEY’RE SCREWING WITH ME, is my point.

The good news is that the peas and beans and squash and zucchini are all already in the garden and doing well. The bad news is that I planted 3 zucchini and 3 yellow squash and I got 2 of one and 3 of the other. I could plant another seed… but I can’t remember which one I put where. Which means I don’t know which one I’m missing. And I’m paralyzed by indecision, as if ending up with 4 of one and 2 of the other would upset the delicate balance of the universe, or something.

Inbetween mucking with my plants and vacuuming the pool fifteen times, I did manage several hundred loads of laundry. Chickadee somehow seemed to outgrow a pair of pants I think I bought her last month, whereas Monkey is still wearing a pair I’d made a mental note last summer to put into the “outgrown” pile because they were nearly too short. They are still only nearly too short, which I think means he hasn’t gotten any tall this entire year…? Is that even POSSIBLE?

To recap:
I am EXCELLENT at growing things… in the pool.
I am PASSABLE at growing things… in the garden.
I am BAFFLED by growing children… and am currently expecting one giant girl and one slightly stunted but still-adorable boy.

The icing on the cake? The pool is nearly ready… and after a week of hitting the low 90s, today it’s only 60 degrees outside. OF COURSE.


  1. Katherine

    Don’t worry – it’s supposed to be back up into the 90’s by the end of the week. Personally I’d like it to hang out in the mid 70’s for a while more, but it doesn’t seem likely. My kids have been begging to go to the neighborhood pool, so we’ll probably hit it one afternoon this week (I’ve been told its ready too, after being pollen-scummy earlier).

  2. laura

    my spinach was covered with frost this morning, I wonder if I can harvest it pre-wilted?

  3. Megan

    But, I think it’s important to point out, you are managing to grow SOMETHING. C’mon up here to the desert where we chip at out baked-clay soil with pickaxes and shove innocent, delicate seedlings into the rock-hard ground to bake in the unrelenting sun – usually with a sadistic laugh because dude, we’re all about the seedling torture ’round here. So far I’ve kept my container plants alive for an entire month (record) but I think they’re just trying to get me emotionally attached before they suddenly and inexplicably wilt and die.

  4. Headless Mom

    In getting my 8yo dressed this morning I realized that he is about to outgrow the pants I bought him in March….they are boys size 16. I’m not kidding…they are too tight and no longer need to be rolled up. I think I have a mutant child on my hands. I whined to him that he’s going to put me in the poor house because he needs new pants so often. At least that got a laugh out of him because I wanted to cry.

  5. Krista Wilcox

    Hahaha! I can’t grow anything from seed. Either they never sprout, my cats eat them, or once I get them in the garden they keel over and die within days. This will be my last spring attempting seeds. It’s just too frustrating.
    As for growing children. I think we’re all baffled. Burp keeps growing taller but his waist size hasn’t changed in 3 years. Finding him pants that aren’t high-waters after the first month is a challenge.

    Good luck!

  6. Debra

    Our pool went from swamp water green to robins egg blue to milky white and finally crystal clear. It took 2 weeks. The chemical analysis showed that the green wasn’t algae though. Just pollen.

  7. Dawn

    It’s been pretty hot… *sobs quietly in the still very chilly north*

  8. Alicia

    Plus of pool-torture? Your house will be THE house for the teenage friends to come and hang out.
    I learned later that this was high on the reasons my parents put a pool in because “if you are here with your friends, you aren’t out doing things that might make your daddy cry.”

  9. ks grandma

    I opened the pool early because one day I walked by it and found it swarming with mosquito larvae. So, nothing resembling it being warm enough, but really? I’d rather throw chemicals at it than swat at mosquitoes in those numbers. Sigh And every time I think it might be nearly warm enough to think about getting in, then we have another cool spell. Frost on May 7 anyone? I had to retype that because my fingers knew May 7 was too ridiculous and kept making it March 7 – a perfectly reasonable date for frost. At any rate, I put in some tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini a few days ago. Wrong moon sign, but with rain in the forecast, I wasn’t sure when I’d get back into the garden. So I gave them “the talk”. They are on their own.

  10. Javamom

    Me and spinach don’t get along either in the plant world. Then I dropped a bunch of spinach seed in my dead, wormless front garden soil and lo and behold there is the most scrumptious spinach growing in there. Who would have thought? Apparently spinach hates my compost-enriched, fresh topsoil enhanced vegetable patch soil in raised garden beds at the back of the house, in the garden, where vegetable gardens are supposed to be grown. But apparently my spinach is perfectly happy to grow up front where it is not meant to be grown. So if we decided to sell this house during the growing season, the future tenants of this place will not see beautiful flowers but eatable spinach. Go figure.

  11. Karen

    Sounds like you have an excellent chance of baffling yourself while trying to grow passable gardens and take a dip in the pool while temps are less than desirable once the pool is actually ready. Ofcourse.

  12. meghann

    “Meanwhile, I had a thriving cucumber sprout that up and diet overnight for no obvious reason”

    Then you need to have a heart to heart with it about its body image. :-P

  13. Wendy 2

    80 degrees? It snowed her in the frozen tundra of North Dakota Thursday night. I think it was 3-4 inches or something. I would gladly take your 60 degree weather off your hands for a few days.

    I can not grow anything, we had a garden when we first bought our house 12 years ago, the second summer in the house, we planted grass, thank goodness THAT I can grow.

  14. Deirdre

    I haven’t even bought my annuals yet, because all of us in the vicinity of your alma mater woke up to snow on Mother’s Day. With freeze warnings lingering for another day, I can join the ranks of people who talk about, “Remember when it snowed on Mother’s Day back in ’96?”. I’d rather suppress the memory, thankyouverymuch.

  15. Katie in MA

    Maybe if you threatened to throw the seedlings in the pool if they didn’t shape up, they’d listen a little better!

  16. Tracy

    I thought only Louisiana had strange weather. It’s been very nice here but absolutely NO rain. We can’t buy rain. It was 75 degrees yesterday and 92 today. Who knows?

  17. Melissa

    Yeah, they are threatening 18 !!!! inches of snow tomorrow, so you lost me at “hot”. We skipped planting ANYTHING this weekend. Perhaps that will kill everything capable of producing pollen?

  18. Holly

    I’m interested in the high fructose corn syrup argument. What exactly was there to argue about?

    I’m terrible at growing stuff as well. My aloe vera plant is suddenly dying and I can’t figure it out, it’s driving me insane!

  19. Steph

    Look into a salt system for your pool. My parents changed theirs out year before last (northwest ga), and though it was a bit costly to do, the only chemicals they had to add last year were 2 bags of salt. Better for your skin, hair, just as good at killing the bad stuff, and much cheaper to maintain!

  20. elz

    That’s why we just keep our pool “open” all year round. It requires a little more periodic maintenance, but well worth it. Of course, it is usally more temperate here. And, it does require us to daily answer-“But why can’t we go swimming” in February! As to the rest, I only grow children where it seems like only the (not so) little one is growing and apparently piles of laundry.

  21. Cele

    Oh this makes me so glad I’ve never fallen into the “I need a pool” grouping of home owners. My leaking hot tub is challenging enough.

    Sees are the bane of my existance. I can grow lots of bird seed, but can grow nothing that came in a package with a coresponding (fake udderly fake) posie picture on the front.

  22. Kelly

    Grow mint instead of spinach. It’ll take over the garden and makes delicious drinks. ; ) I do not have a green thumb but the mint is growing!

  23. Garnigal

    I love my above ground pool, other than the fact we’re in Canada. It’s high enough up that we don’t get critters, unlike my grandparents in ground (I hated fishing frogs out every morning), but it does cool off quickly.

  24. karyn

    before closng the pool for the winter, pour in 3-4 bottles of bleach. My dad used to do this before closing our pool every winter and when we took off the cover it only had a little bit of green water and dead bugs n stuff. :)

  25. mamaspeak

    I think Katie in MA was onto something bout throwing the plants in the pool. They probably would’ve thrived in there. ;-)

  26. LmoCrowe

    I live in the same general area and also own a pool. We never ‘close’ it. Once the weather cools, it does not require as much (many?) chemicals. We maintain it throughout winter, by tossing chlorine blocks in the skimmers on occasion. And we scale way back on running the pump and vacuum, unless it is substantially below freezing temperatures, then we run the pump overnight to prevent it from freezing. Ask your pool store next fall for details. We get to enjoy a lovely pool view year round.

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