A few years ago, I invested a whole summer into trying to grow vegetables.
I dreamed of bell peppers, and carrots, and tomatoes. I got excited about lemongrass for roasted chicken garnish and mint leaves for ice water or lemonade on our hot summer days. People would say, “wow, this [insert item here] is delicious.” and I would say, “Thanks, it’s from my garden. I grew it myself.”
But, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
And that’s exactly where this garden went.
It went so far awry that I haven’t even bought a hanging flower pot in two years.
To sum it up, it was one frustrating disaster after another. The bell peppers started with a fungus, and the ball rolled downhill from there. I had soil that was too wet and soil that wasn’t wet enough. I had too many birds and not enough shade. I had aphids dropping larvae off in bulk, and at some point, I started to worry (a lot) about finding hornworms on my tomato plants. Nevermind that you have to have live tomato plants for hornworms to show up.
In the end, everything died, which was fine. I probably wouldn’t have eaten anything that made it after everything I had been through. I decided the most I should ever be involved with gardening is selecting fresh vegetables from the grocery store where they are grown by people who know what they’re doing.
So, you can imagine how thrilled I was last fall when my husband bought some spruce trees to plant near the back of our property.
He watered them for the first part of summer, then he got busy at work and I ended up taking over. Not because I’m a nice person, but because when we got married, I vowed I’d stay in good times and in bad. So, every other evening, I go outside after I get the dishes done, and I water the trees for him.
I don’t mind.
It’s usually just me, and I enjoy the quiet.
Sometimes, while I’m watering the trees, I watch the long weeds blow in the wind and wonder if a coyote is in them. Can I outrun it back to the house? Probably not. Other times I wonder why the grasshoppers are so big this year, and when did they come with a set of wings so large they can outfly a bird? Why are they big enough to hide in the lawn and you can see them looking out at you?
That bothers me.
About a month ago, I noticed some thick weeds growing behind two of the trees. I assumed they were weeds because I think I’ve demonstrated that I don’t know anything about plants and gardening. I didn’t pull them up because the leaves looked big and behind big leaves are living things that move around. So I left them.
It turns out they aren’t weeds, they’re pumpkins.
On their own.
I spent a lot of time wondering how these pumpkins ended up on just two of our five trees halfway across our property. I never attempted to grow pumpkins, so the seeds didn’t blow around. It was a mystery until last week when I overheard my husband talking to our daughter, that I remembered we had fed our bunny pumpkin last fall.
That was around the same time we planted the trees—and by “we” I mean my husband.
It was also around the same time I suggested he recycle the bunny’s poop as fertilizer for the trees.
And there you have it.
While we generally are careful to remove seeds when we give the bunny treats, nothing is ever 100%.
I once spent an entire summer trying to grow vegetables with the dream of eating them for dinner. I watered, fed, and babied those plants, ones that would never show their appreciation by flourishing into success. My gardening legacy went into the trashcan in mid-September with my garden and the cheap, plastic greenhouse I started it in.
This summer, I made a minimal effort to keep these trees alive. I watered them every other day out of marital obligation and somehow managed to grow pumpkins from rabbit poop.
We’ll see how they do.
I give the trees a little extra water to supplement the pumpkins, but that’s all the effort I put into them. I don’t baby them like I did my garden and I certainly don’t linger around admiring them.
Not because I don’t want to get my hopes up, because I can see the giant grasshoppers in the leaves looking at me.