My favorite Buddhist is Geri Larkin. I was given her latest book, Plant Seed, Pull Weed this winter. I have no idea at all why I haven't read it yet. The only thing I can figure is that the universe knew I'd need to be reading it now rather than six months ago.
And I do.
The book, not surprisingly given the title, uses gardening as a metaphor for Buddhist practice. The author was working as a gardener at the time the book was written. I came home from work and went out to my own garden, somewhat neglected throughout the horrible heat we've had the past couple of weeks. Our grass is nearly all brown, except for some lovely green weeds. I'm too stubborn to water grass. I think it's a ridiculous plant that society has decided we should use for a yard.
I spent most of my time attempting to corral the squash. I pulled off some of the dead leaves and tried to encourage the squash to either grow up or outside of the garden walls.
The strand to the left is acorn squash. The middle strand (that looks sickly) and the strand growing up the metal post (that looks great) is delicata. The mound on the right is spaghetti, the plant that's been producing the spacorns. If the gardening trellis had worked, it's possible I could have grown the delicata and acorn in this space, but the spaghetti needs its own bed. Lesson learned. Next year I'll need to find another spot in our very small yard for a squash patch. Since our yard is equal parts clay, rocks, and roots, I'll be interested to see how the squash does. This year it's being babied in the square foot garden's specially-prepared soil.
This is a sweet banana pepper plant that, despite its oddly growing main stem, seems to be doing well.
I've never grown okra and don't know much about it. Now I know that it really needs more space than I'm giving it. I also finally read up in my giant gardening book about when to harvest the pods and realized I'd already missed the window for three pods. I've vowed to pay more attention.
Okra is pretty. I really had no idea. I think it deserves an enthusiastic round of applause as it has rebounded from being stripped of leaves during the Soy Sad Episode.
This is a bell pepper plant. I'm pretty startled that it's doing so well. I have a notoriously difficult time growing bell peppers. Banana peppers? Great. Serranos? Terrific. Chiles? Beautiful. Plain old bell peppers? Nothing doing. I'm looking at these plants out of the corner of my eye. I'm pretty sure a perception filter is involved.
See that very small plant the above picture? You know, the one between two rabbit-eaten marigolds? That looks suspiciously like a tomato. I can't understand it. If it is a tomato, it's one of the seedlings I planted. I'd like everyone to pause for a moment and look at a calendar.
August 18. I planted the seeds back in February or March. You want to tell me there's no temporal wormhole in my garden?
I trimmed the tomato plants. I tried to force a couple of plants back inside their cages, only to break the stem. It was a good reminder that gardens need more attention. If I had made a thirty-second check of the garden each day, I would have easily trained the tomatoes to grow inside the cages instead of discovering their errant ways after it was too late. The tomato pictured is the first full-sized tomato turning red. I possibly will get a veggie sandwich before the summer is over... unless a rabbit gets to it first.
I have had about six cherry tomatoes from this plant. I appreciate its enthusiasm. I'm usually a grape tomato fan rather than cherry tomatoes, but these have been very sweet.
Gardening is teaching me things:
- Enthusiasm at the onset of a project isn't enough. I have to follow through.
- Not all plants can fit inside a small garden, regardless of what I read.
- If I let a tomato grow outside of its cage, I have to accept that. I can't force it back without breaking it.
- Rabbits eat everything, even marigolds.
- If I insist on trying to grow herbs over and over and over again, I need to accept that they most likely will die. Not everyone is cut out to grow them, regardless of how easy it's supposed to be.
- There is a temporal wormhole in my backyard. Tread carefully.
- Even when I do most everything right, I can't control what's going to happen in the garden. Rabbits treat it like their personal salad bar. Tomato worms take up residence. Garden trellis rots when it shouldn't. Squash take over. Temporal wormholes keep seedlings from growing. It's not all my fault.