Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring planting

Spring Break this year fell on the perfect time to clear out an unused flower bed and fill it with new life. 2.0 and I started on it last Tuesday, loosening up the soil, yanking weeds, and spreading the wildflower and zinnia seeds she got for her birthday.

Yesterday, we planted a tomato and a variety of herb plants, just as my daughter's interest in the entire project faded into oblivion. Oh well. I always lost interest a short way into my mom's gardens, too. Unfortunately, hers were of a scale that required all of us to pitch in and help, whether we liked it or not.

This morning, I was plucking out some of the larger remaining weeds in preparation for applying the Texas native cedar mulch when the vivid memory of Grandma's roses came to mind. I remember being appalled as she casually pulled off what I thought was a perfectly nice yellow rose, then sprinkling the discarded petals over the floor of the flower bed as we said our good-byes.

I'm sure I asked my mom about it when we got into the car, and I'm sure she gave me a perfectly good explanation. Or maybe I didn't ask. But I know now that the rose was nearly spent, and would soon drop its petals anyway, making way for nutrient-draining rose hips that are far less attractive than a new rosebud. That is, if you aren't planning on harvesting the hips from your rose bushes. 2.0 prefers to let the cycle run its course with hers.

As I spread the mulch over the top soil, the smell reminded me of tilling and planting mom's vegetable gardens (I say vegetable gardens, though the majority of what we planted were technically fruits). We didn't plant one every year, but probably did so more often than not from the time I was 13.

Mom loved to grow as large of a variety of produce as she could fit into our backyard, and even planted a separate patch to one side of the front yard dedicated solely to corn at least once. Absolute necessities were tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, and peas. She had some nostalgic obsession with the act of shelling peas that neither my sister or I could fully comprehend, though we did love to joke about it.

We all got to pick out anything we wanted to grow. Mom made me plant my jalapeno and cayenne peppers at the far end of the garden, away from everything else, for fear the hot peppers would somehow add "heat" to any surrounding fruits. I'm still not sure if that is even possible, but I obliged. My favorite part of the whole process was eating my freshly picked jalapeno peppers right there in the garden while harvesting the fruits of our labors.

I've taken a couple of shots at vegetable gardening in the last eight years. Without Mom reminding me to go out and water the plants every evening, they generally wither within a few weeks.

Today, my lone tomato plant sits nestled among the parsley, oregano, basil and mint. Six little navy beans, hundreds of zinnias, and a robust mix of wildflowers have yet to breach the surface. Their future is uncertain, but I've kept it small enough to manage until I can get the hang of this gardening business.
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