There are two great motivators in my life. One is fear and the other, regrettably but truthfully, is envy.
When you’re young, invincible and all lies ahead, the only real kind of fear is the FOMO kind – fear of missing out. When you’ve just had another in what seems like an endless string of birthdays, there’s another kind of fear – fear of running out. Of time. Yikes. Thus, the idea of beginning a garden when you’re just a few years shy of 70 may seem a bit late in the game. So much to learn, so little time. But on the other hand, there’s no time like the present, right?
It occurred to me when life shifted from a constant packing and unpacking suitcases to a year-long hunkering down that all that dirt outside might be good for something. The CE set me up with my little table top garden last fall – a blank canvas just waiting to be filled in!
Since it was September, the planting options were limited, but my enthusiasm wasn’t. I mean, how hard could this be?
Except that the lettuce never got any bigger than this.
And nary another tomato ever appeared. This one ripened, but the plant promptly withered and collapsed – one lesson learned is that tomatoes won’t grow in a too-shallow tabletop garden. Their roots need room!
I spent the winter in a sulk but recovered enough to begin anew in April. Surely my thumb had grown green by now!
It helps to plant things that are basically weeds. Mint is a winner!
And snap peas turned out to be a snap!
My happiest memories of this spring will be of stepping out to visit the garden and making myself a late afternoon “salad” of basil, snap peas and cherry tomatoes:
Never mind that I could have run over to the grocery and purchased all these things for much less than the cost of the precious water I lavished on the plants. There is just something irrationally satisfying about harvesting a snap pea!
But then the envy kicked in. I saw my friends Tammy and Tom’s garden and felt for all the world like I’d been cast out of Eden. They had EVERY kind of fruit and vegetable and suddenly even my flourishing little haricot vert vine seemed insufficient.
THEY most especially had the nerve to be growing a robust crop of potatoes out of a cardboard box! My thumb may not be green but the rest of me was – green with envy over that potato vine. (I remember something along these lines occurring in that first garden as well…everything was perfect until human nature reared it’s ugly head.)
I would show them. I would plant my OWN potatoes. Right?
Wrong. I went to one nursery, two, three and four and was told at every one that the potatoes were SOLD OUT. I wasn’t the only COVID-era gardener out there by a long shot and apparently spuds were the crop of choice. I even looked online – the tubers, which are the favored way to plant potatoes, were sold out across the board.
I settle for some fingerling seeds, which I babied extravagantly by the kitchen window for a few weeks.
I transplanted them, according to the directions, after they got their secondary leaves, at which point the spindly little things gave up the ghost entirely. I gotta say, I took it a bit hard – after all, what Irish person is incapable of growing potatoes?
But my envy had not subsided and my fear of running out of time – it’s almost June, you know – kicked into high gear. I widened my internet search and lo and behold, if you order from the other side of the country, you can get a potato! By the way, if you are thinking “why didn’t she just go get some at the grocery store and plant them”, I thought of that, too. Turns out that the potatoes you buy there are sprayed with something to prevent sprouting and they aren’t good candidates for the garden.
Anyway, my Adirondack Red Potatoes arrived yesterday, hopefully in the mood to be California transplants.
Yes, it’s true they do look – A LOT – like long-forgotten things I have thrown out of the vegetable bin in the past. But let’s not dwell on that, shall we? According to directions, I’m giving them a week by the window to acclimate to their new coast, and then we shall try again. I can see it now – they will grow abundantly and instead of green with envy I’ll be a much better person and invite my friends over for potato salad. And all will be well in the Garden.