Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells?
Do you have any plants all in a row? If you do, I envy you! Imagine a nice large garden, full of ripe tomatoes on the vine, zucchinis on the ground, beans and peppers, eggplant and cucumbers, lettuce, and onions, carrots and pumpkins. Do you have an image in your mind? If you’re really good at this, you might even be able to smell the tomatoes and the peppers, the dirt, the sun. But let me tell you, that’s NOT my garden you’re envisioning. Mine is pretty much void of life save for some bugs and worms and weeds. Things I didn’t even plant there. The worms and insects must be peeking out of the ground and attracting the birds. Because something is attracting the birds, and I can assure you, it’s not the fruits and vegetables. Because there aren’t any fruits or vegetables growing in my garden.
It’s not for lack of trying, either. A month ago my son and I planted an abundance of seeds in the little plot of dirt in our backyard that we like to call a garden. If everything we planted grew, we could host a Thanksgiving Dinner that would rival the one thrown by the Pilgrims and the Indians way back when. But nothing grows back there. Okay, that’s not exactly true. We’ve got one green bean plant poking out of the ground (out of the 20 we planted), and some grass.
And before you get all excited, let me say that no, it’s not the kind of grass that you might like to smoke! It’s the kind that grows on lawns. Only, not my lawn. My lawn grows only clover. And dandelions. And some other kind of weed that I don’t know the name of. But my garden! Now THAT thing grows grass. It’s almost… lush. With a bit more care it could be fit for a golf course. I dig it up and it just grows back. It’s smart grass too. I bet you didn’t even know that grass had intelligence. Somehow, it knows not to cross the line in the ground, the one separating the “garden” from the yard. The line is made of chicken wire to keep the rabbits out of the garden so they don’t eat the
Also, my garden grows rocks! Lots and lots of rocks. I didn’t plant them, but they grow there, in the same abundance that the clover, which I didn’t plant in my yard, grows. Last spring, as we tilled the soil to ready the garden for planting, we kept hitting rocks. My rudimentary knowledge of gardening told me that plant roots don’t like to be impeded by rocks, so every time I hit a rock, I dug it up and tossed it into a bucket. Twice, I filled a 5 gallon bucket to the brim with rocks.
For all of our efforts, we had a poor yield last year. This spring, I thought I’d try again. I gathered the hoe and a rake and some shovels from the shed and went out to the garden to once again dig up the field of grass that had made a home there. I dug up the grass to find an under layer of worms, grubs, strange crawly insects, and… rocks. Again, the rocks. They seem to be the best crop growing because this time I filled up the 5-gallon bucket not twice, but 3 times!
I had enough rocks that I used them all to line the flower beds in front of the house with. Next year, I expect I’ll have enough to build a wall. What’s the line from that poem? Good fences make good neighbors? A rock fence, then, that’s what I’ll build!
We did grow a carrot in the garden last year. I didn’t know we’d grown a carrot considering that no leafy green shoot ever appeared above ground to indicate there was a carrot below ground. But believe it or not, we dug up the carrot this spring! At first, I didn’t know what it was. I was hacking away at the ground with my hoe, digging up the grass and rocks when I noticed an orange pulpy mass in the ground. I stepped back in horror, certain I’d hit a nest of rabbits and that I was looking at the remains of one. Why it would be orange, instead of red, was beyond, me. “What’s that?” I asked my husband as I pointed, sick feeling, at the orange glob on the ground. “I don’t know,” he said. “Dig it up and find out!” “Uh, Uh, not me. I’m not digging it up. I think it’s an animal. Maybe a rabbit. Remember how the rabbits made a nest in the ground under our picnic table last year? What if they did that in our garden and I’ve just creamed one? “ My husband took the shovel and dug. “Go! Go into the house! Quickly now!” I urged my son, not wanting him to see how his mother had probably just killed a nest of rabbits. I came back out and averted my eyes. My husband bent down, reached into the ground, stood up. “Look!” he said, extending his hand in offering. “It’s a carrot!”
A carrot? A carrot?! How could there be a carrot in the ground? “The carrots didn’t grow last year!” I argued. But there it was, the proof. I took it from him, held it in my palm and inspected it. It was a carrot. The top was sheared off and a bit pulpy, from where I’d been hacking at it. I shrugged, tossed it into the bucket with the rocks.
“We should eat that,” my husband said.
“What? I’m not eating that,” I replied. “It’s been in the ground for a whole entire year!”
“I’m going to clean it off and eat it,” he said.
“No, you’re not!” I said.
But later, I was in the kitchen making dinner. My husband walked in with the carrot and washed it off. He took a bite, and announced, “It doesn’t have much taste. It doesn’t really have any taste. If I die,” he added, “make sure to tell them I ate this carrot”.
“Of course it doesn’t have any taste!” I retorted. “It’s a year old! I wouldn’t eat anything that’s been in the ground like that for an entire year! That’s disgusting! And if you die, it’s your own fault! They say you shouldn’t even eat leftovers that are more than 3 days old. But obviously, you don’t care. You’ll eat anything!” Then I added, “If you don’t die, but if you get really sick later, I don’t want to hear about it. Don’t come complaining to me.”
By some miracle, he didn’t die. He didn’t even get the slightest bit sick. Not even a touch of heartburn! So he’s still around. He waters our “garden” for me every evening. He updates me with garden reports: “You need to turn the soil where you planted the green beans,” he says. “The beans didn’t grow but you’ve got grass starting to shoot up there. And you might want to put out a scarecrow. There’s lots of birds in there.”