Love crosses its fingers

By Mir
June 24, 2010

I know that every year I get a little loopy about my garden; in much the same way I can barely believe I’m an adult (with a driver’s license and kids and everything), it still amazes me that I can grow things that turn into delicious food. I must’ve slept my way through botany in high school, because it still blows my mind. Soil and seeds and water make FOOD? It’s like some kind of wonderful black magic.

Of course, it’s also a pretty nearly-instantly gratifying kind of thing, too. Plant, water, wait a month or two, enjoy the fruits (and veggies!) of your labors. For a devotee of Short Attention Span Theater such as myself, that’s a pretty rewarding payoff in a not very long period of time.

Of course, there are demons to slay along the way: Two years ago I focused on vanquishing the slugs, and last year I dueled the tomato horn worms in the Battle of Squick. This garden thing is not without its trials, is what I’m saying.

Still… plant, water, maybe slay some bugs, wait, and then enjoy.

This year my zucchini and squash have been producing merrily for weeks, now. And everything else is just starting to catch up. I’ve done battle with the slugs and faced off with the aphids and have sprinkled diatomaceous earth on a slew of other generic bugs, and still the garden grows.

Of course, several of my pepper plants died, for unknown reasons. And one of them—still alive, mind you—sits there not growing at all. It hasn’t died, but it hasn’t grown. Very curious.

The neglected peas and beans have wound their way up and around and over and down again, and if the flowers and bees are any indication, good things are about to happen.

One tomato plant croaked. Its replacement seems happy.

I planted. I water. I weed. I wait. Mostly, it pays off.

There’s a tired metaphor in there about parenting, I’m sure, but I’ll spare us all. This is just what happens when I’m missing my babies. I torture the dog and I coo to my plants, and the kids come back just in time to save me from starting entire conversations with the kitchen appliances.

These will be yellow pear cherry tomatoes, soon. Monkey likes to sneak outside first thing in the morning and pick himself a snack of them before anyone else is even up. At least, he did last year. These ones aren’t ready yet, but I think of them as his tomatoes, anyway.

Awwwww, wookit dah widdle tiny cukie! It looks like a angry little gherkin! Don’t worry, it’s going to grow up into a normal cucumber. I am thinking of trying my hand at making pickles this year, in no small part because Chickadee the Picky Vegetarian is never happier than when there are pickles on the table. “Everyone loves pickles!” she exclaims. “They’re part of an important breakfast!” (No, we don’t eat pickles for breakfast. I try not to ask.)

I couldn’t help myself; this is the second peapod I’ve spotted… the first one was off the vine and in my mouth before I’d even stopped to think. It tasted like live sugar. I can hardly wait for the rest of them, which I will plan to use in multiple recipes but which will be devoured, raw, before I even get them into the kitchen.

Plants are easy. I plant, I water, I weed, I wait. I cross my fingers. I hope. I savor.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.


  1. meghann

    I’m having the same problem with my bell pepper plants (and my tomatoes actually). They aren’t dying, but they aren’t growing either. They’re just happy little plants. . .staying little.

    Meanwhile my oregano has exploded and is bent on taking over the world.

  2. KarenP

    Our garden is doing so so. Too much Western Washington Rain. That’s Rain with a capital R. Very wet and cold spring. Our carrots croaked. I don’t think I’ve even seen any dahlia shoots yet. We bought our tomato plants late so they look ok. But our peas and especially the potatoes and onions are doing well.

  3. Katie in MA

    Seeing all the happy results of your hard work MIGHT be better than eating fresh sugar snap peas straight from the garden. But only maybe. And by a small margin.

    Happy Love Thursday!

  4. Sara

    My zukes and cukes are growing great. I am waiting for my peppers to turn red. My lettuce has been delicious. The basil and rosemary are growing fragrant and delicious. The tomatoes are coming on. My strawberries are growing, but may fall to the chipmunks and bluejays. As for the peas, they are mighty delicious, but, alas! I fear that my pea-loving sons will do them in before they ever hit the table. Seems like every time one of them strolls by the garden they come away with a pea pod or two. Oh well, that’s what a garden is for after all. I, like you, continue to be amazed that I am able to grow food. I am so very proud of myself for something I have very little hand in–much like when I was growing my offspring. (Huh. Sometimes I want to eat them too…)

  5. Megan

    And here I’m spending DAYS patting myself on the back for keeping four tubs of herbs and tomatoes alive for two months. My excuse is we just moved and I wasn’t going to start a garden I couldn’t take with me!

    Easiest pickles in the world:

    equal parts vinegar and water, half part sugar, dash of salt, pepper if you like it, sliced cucumber, combine. That’s it!

    Actually I like to use rice wine vinegar (lower the amount of water) and put a bit of fresh mint in, but they’re really good regardless. Also? If you throw a few in a salad you don’t even need dressing so it’s totally and utterly fat free (don’t TALK to me about the sugar. I’m in denial about the sugar).

  6. Lylah

    I have a great Bread & Butter pickle recipe… sweet, a little spicy, really delish. Lemme know if you want it!

  7. dad

    In your last sentence, where you list your “I (action)s, you forgot “I kvell.”

    I do.

    A metaphor is a terrible thing to waste.
    Now you need to explain to your readers the difference between savoring and kvelling.

  8. Brigid

    First time gardener here – it is quite amazing to me that we have been able to eat things that *I* grew! Though from the looks of your cucumber plant, mine might be in trouble. But we’ve already had a huge crop of snap peas and green beans. And a few tomatoes so far. There is a definite learning curve, but I’m happy that things are growing! (Quite possibly with a little nudge from reading all your gardening posts from last year… so thanks!)

    And by huge crop, I mean my family of four ate snap peas twice and green beans three times. Don’t want to make it sound like I’m feeding the neighborhood…

  9. ania

    I wish my efforts would “mostly pay off”…. we’ve had unusually cold spring in Seattle & our first effort to grow our own veggies is so far not paying off that much. apparently experienced gardeners in our area delayed their efforts this year quite a bit. we’ve harvested nine radishes so far! :-) unfortunately my husband doesn’t care for them. i do – i grew up eating them frequently. we’ll see how it goes from here but i’m glad i got re-inspired by your fruitful efforts today!

  10. liz

    Hooray for gardening!!

  11. Brigitte

    I’ve got a couple well-established herbs I grow (what to do with a sage “bush” the size of a wading pool?), but I fear nothing else will ever grow well unless I shave my property bare of trees to give the garden sun. Which I won’t do. I just keep planting and cover my ears, Tra La La I can’t hear youuuu!! ;-)

    I also have a hard time (despite the mirror’s horrible evidence) that I’m a real, live grown-up with a kid and house and everything!

  12. JennyM

    Earlier this week I could a tomato horn worm eating one of my pepper plants. Eating it! Just gnawing away at the stalk! Chopped it right off! There are few things that truly gross me out — and tomato horn worms are one of ’em. Bleeccch.

    PS — I thought I knew what “kvell” meant but maybe I was thinking of “kvetch.” If that is even a word.

  13. MomCat

    Lylah – I want the recipe!!! Pretty please, with pickles on top!

    Your garden is beautiful, Mir. I’m in awe. I’ve given up calling what I do “vegetable gardening,” and am calling it “contributing to the ecosystem.” The deer, bunnies and squirrels eat everything that appears. Sigh.

  14. Michele Renee

    I just found your blog after Googling, “Am grossed out by Horn Worm” and I read your 6/13/09 post about your garden that had me in stitches! I live in Atl suburb and have been growing veggies in my backyard for about 4 years. This year I added more (tomatoes and peppers) to the front yard. Two days ago I was weeding. Yesterday I saw a banana pepper plant with one leaf left and saw ONE of these guys as big s a hot dog–NO LIE!!!!! I was so grossed out but still managed to get the whole family to check it out and bring me my camera. One of my sons used a stick to get it off and in the process the horn worm reared its head and flung it all around ready to fight. Anyway, we put it in the hot, hot street and saw it crawl across the street to the neighbors.
    I posted about it this morning and since then I have learned all about it and found your site. So see–good has come from it!!
    P.S. We do have a black light so I am going to plug it into an extension cord and we are going to hunt tonight. This could be better than camping.

  15. Carolie

    Tell Chickie she must have been a Japanese princess in a former life. Breakfast in Japan = rice, miso soup and *pickles*. (Also fish, but not as consistently.) A meal without pickles in Japan (especially breakfast!) is simply not a well-rounded meal.

  16. Amanda

    I am flirting with a compost heap. The prospect of turning soil and enriching it by my own hand…gives me butterflies, but also, I worry it’ll be kind of stinky and hard. More metaphors, eh?

  17. Heather

    New mini-gardener here…..the first time I walked over to where I had planted tomatoes last year, and there was actually something RED on the vine I swear I heard angels singing! This year we’re trying our luck with a few more veggies and some herbs so here’s hoping! EEK!

  18. Ingrid

    We have such crappy soil here – clay and rocks – that we’ve always done containers on the back deck with tomatoes, peppers and herbs, instead of a “real” garden. This year we never quite got around to it, and now that it’s nearly July we’re a bit too late. What a weird feeling to walk out onto that deck and see no tomatoes! Maybe next year I’ll get ambitious and do raised beds. In the meantime, if you come north this summer, feel free to bring me some produce! :)

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