Thursday, September 13, 2012

Imagining My Garden

With a writer's imagination, I've written several books. Boy do I wish that imagination would work in my garden.

Because there… I seem to wield the gardener's black thumb of death.

It wasn't always this way. In Colorado, I grew blackberries and pears and apples. I’d get squash, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, okra and more. I would can and freeze these fruits of my labor for use over the long winter months.

Then I moved to Arizona. So far, my gardener's green-thumb has gone as dormant as the nutrients in my sun-bleached soil.


I made raised beds, put in a mixture of soil like the man at the garden shop said, and went to get my plants; peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, okra, brussel sprouts, squash, mint, basil, sweet mint, parsley, and oregano. The man at the garden shop said anything will grow here. The plants looked so healthy at the garden shop.

I planted my garden, talking nicely to my plants as I tucked them in their beds, so they'd know what they meant to me. Then I sat back with a basket to gather all the fruits that would soon be falling off my vines. Ha.

It was as if the plants were dormant themselves. They certainly get the message that everything grows in Arizona. I got a couple of little tomatoes and watched a squash flower bloom and saw it begin to grow. I cheered it on like an Olympic coach. I got some clippings from my herbs that I could dry and use fresh in meals. Yum.

But soon, things began to shrivel. The herbs, which I sat inside, were the first to go. I deep sixed them saving any leaves I could, bought new ones, and planted them. Same scenario. I saw more squash blooms, more shady leaves of green, but no squash. No tomatoes. Nothing.

Then came June and the plants managed to eke out more tomatoes and a couple of peppers. I grew enough for jars full in Colorado. At this rate I'd get a can over six months.

My okra was blooming full force. I expected the stalk to shoot up and give me a bounty.

Again, Ha

Shortly into June came the 110+ days and dust storms. I had planted in a place where there wasn't full sun but… but that didn't stop the wind. I watered faithfully so my plants wouldn't scorch, but I could almost hear the moisture being sucked out of them. It was amazing, my plants wouldn't grow, but the weeds would.

For all my toiling, I ended up with two tomatoes, no squash, a couple okra, a few peppers and a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes and a touch of herbs.

I was so frustrated, I yanked the tomatoes and squash out. The strawberries had long since given up the ghost, as had the Brussel Sprouts.

I'm babying some peppers and okra, in 113 heat. It doesn't look good for them.

Too bad I can't just grow a garden with my imagination.

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