Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Farewell to Summer Part II: Gardening

I might as well admit it: I don't have a green thumb. I take short cuts. I've never been good about prepping the soil, so most everything is planted in unctuous slabs of clay.

It's sad, really. Chicago yards are the size of postage stamps, and after you plunk a house, some concrete, and a garage onto these tidy 125 X 25 lots, you'd think a person of vision could make something of the leftover space. I guess I've had luck with perennials, but I swear, it's morning glories and not cockroaches that'll survive the nuclear winter. You can't really take credit for things that can plant themselves.

This year I got three zucchini before a fungus got to the stems. I got heaps of roma tomatoes, but none of them tasted like anything, as if they'd been bred for supermarket shelves. I got a handful of nice jalapenos, but the leaves shaded the annuals right next to them, so the flowers didn't bloom all summer.

In spite of these pitfalls, I love to garden. Even when my luck is modest, it's pretty amazing to look at a trumpet vine or black-eyed Susan or Japanese eggplant and realize, I grew that!

As we approach the chilly winter months that force us to swap certain creative forms for others, here's to trying things we're not always good at. Here's to adequacy, to majestic failure, and to occasional unexpected, breathtaking success.


tracy said...

Those last lines are downright lovely...and true to most of life, actually. Gardens are amazing, aren't they?

I hear from folks who know gardening that the problem with Romas is the breeding of the variety--even homegrown taste like nothing. They recommend another small-but-pulpy variety. By accident, I had really good luck with "Best Boy" tomotoes for sauce making this year. So, Italian heritage tomatoes be damned!

leslie said...

I agree with Tracy--I am having a love affair with that last paragraph.

This year I worked some sand, cotton burr compost, and chicken manure (purchased--ours wasn't ready yet) into the garden soil, and I can't believe the difference it made.

Adriane said...

Like you Christy, I'm not a very careful gardener...perhaps making it even more miraculous to see that beautiful flower or vegetable rising out of the mess. Congratulations on a summer well spent...biking, gardening, and some yard sale treasure hunting to boot. I enjoy the blog immensely!