Quite Contrary

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Nurseries, it turns out, are not filled with children but with plants. Which is for the best. A nursery is a place of commerce. It’s a relief, knowing they don’t traffic in children.

Prior to last weekend, my experience with plants had been very limited, apart from eating them and wearing clothes fashioned out of them and occasionally seeking shade under the larger varieties. While living in Chapel Hill I had tried to grow a violet, which under my care became ill with astonishing speed, and I had tried to grow some indoor cacti, reasoning that these hardiest of plants could survive even my ministrations. Remembering to water them only every month or two would have been sufficient.

Unfortunately Goblin knocked them from their ledge on the window sill. That, or they jumped. Forensics results were inconclusive.

Why is it easier to keep a cat alive than a plant?

It is spring now, and for the first time in seven years, my front yard is not a parking lot. My personal politics (roughly summed up as “one notch below ecoterrorism”) demand that I try my hand at gardening. My dwindling savings demand that I try it, too. If I get this to work right, my grocery bill should go down a fair bit.

I have spinach and lettuce growing in a container on my back porch. I have rosemary growing next to the porch. I have sugar snap peas growing next to a different side of the porch (with a lattice for them to climb upon, if they attain adequate height before I kill them off), and green onions growing next to them. They would have been regular onions, only I didn’t read the packaging carefully. And then, a bit removed from all of that, I have some mint plants.

I think another weekend visit to the nursery is in order. I don’t want to overreach in my first attempt at a vegetable garden; if I wind up accidentally slaughtering everybody, I’d prefer to contain the damage to a small herbimassacre. Still, though: the cost savings could be noticeable. I spend a lot of money on cilantro, potatoes, tomatoes, onions (the regular kind), garlic, and basil — and if this suggests to you that my kitchen is a place of deliciousness, you would be correct.

And cauliflower. And broccoli. Dang. Oh and carrots.

Fortunately, I have two gardens in which to attempt to grow and/or annihilate vegetables. After a steady campaign of wheedling and nagging, my boyfriend surrendered and allowed me to commandeer a patch of his plot. (I’m not deliberately using militaristic language, by the way. It’s happening unintentionally. This probably does not reflect well on my relationship with gardens.) He was envisioning a garden filled with decorative trees and flowers, which is nice enough, I guess, if you’re into that sort of thing, but frankly the UNCA botanical gardens are within walking distance and nobody every made a nice hearty stew with a Japanese maple, now did they.

So in that garden I am responsible for the lives of tomatoes, rosemary, spinach, basil, mint, bell peppers, strawberries, cilantro, and cayenne. By extension I am also responsible for the lives of some slugs. This is not very earth-mother of me, but I want them dead. I want some slug carnage. I want to soak the earth with the blood of my slug enemies, though since they’re invertebrates I’m guessing they probably don’t actually have blood.

Also by extension I am responsible for the life of a salamander. It was ugly as sin, pure black and slimy-looking, but it was good company while I was planting and my internet research tells me that salamanders are harmless in gardens, so it may live.

One thing I will not be held responsible for is the fish. I have graciously allowed my boyfriend to use a bit of his own land for purposes other than my vegetable growing. He has installed three half barrels, formerly home to Mister Jack Daniels, and boy howdy do they smell good. Rather than buying a damn pump, he is insisting on using pipes and tubes and siphons and physics to construct a system for moving water between the barrels. If he ever gets that part figured out, he will have a functioning miniature ecosystem for goldfish and guppies to live in.

Seems like a lot of effort to me, but I am humoring the project, because ultimately it will work to my advantage. I will be able to use the fishie water for my vegetables. Pictures of barrels and vegetables alike will follow in coming posts. Meanwhile, keep your fingers crossed that my plants are vegetables with a strong will to live.


10 responses »

  1. Not even one pump?

  2. the lesbrarian

    A pump may have been purchased. I don't recall exactly. I was busy looking at vegetables.

  3. In my experience, cats cry, scratch, bite, or find some other way to capture your attention when they are hungry, thirsty, or in some other stage of mild or major discontent. Plants do not. That is why cats are easier to keep alive.

  4. You can pour beer in trays. Slugs crawl in to get their drink on and drown!

  5. the lesbrarian

    Right, Lafriend, like you would know anything about cats.

  6. the lesbrarian

    SilverLinings: Does that trick work with crappy beer? I don't want to give them the good stuff.

  7. It works especially well with PBR. Slugs love crappy beer! I haven't tried malt liquor, but I bet it would work also. Get them $2 40 of Cobra. The worst part about this you have pans full of dead slugs that you must do something with. Ew!

  8. the lesbrarian

    I couldn't find PBR in a giant can, so I went with Busch instead. And then I saw someone I knew in the grocery store, and I didn't have my sunglasses or my wig or my fake mustache. It was awful.

  9. eleemosenary archivist

    Congrats Jess,Sounds like Ceres has attracted a new adherent to the Society of Carolina Gardens and Aqueducts. May your proclivity for plant and animal care blossom on your own plots and those of the Country Gentleman's fish barrels… No shooting fish in those barrels though,eh? Here's to Life in union with the Land L'Chaim! tgb-EA

  10. That is awful! Did you explain that it was gardening beer?At least you didn't go with Cobra. A disguise would definitely be needed for that.^ Shooting fish in a barrel isn't nearly as easy as you'd expect it to be.


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