Earth Priestess of Spring

Ah, spring.

The love of the soil is buried deep in our collective conscience.  Each year the sap rises and our spirits lift in song, in an ancient ritual older than memory. We are druid priestesses anew, dancing at Beltane.  We thirst; we yearn to dig in the rich, loamy earth.  She is our mother, the source of all life springing forth anew!

Which is why it stinks that I suck so hard at gardening.

It’s not that I don’t try.  Heck no!  Each year I start out with a heart filled with hope, and the best of intentions.  This will be the year.  The garden club will call, begging me to join.  The newspaper will want to photograph my paradise as an inspiration to all. THIS time things will be different. The spirit is willing, but my thumbs are every shade but green.

In early May, garden meccas spring up in the parking lots of every grocery store and big-box home improvement store in town.  The colors call to me; the rich shades of green, the rainbow-hued flowers.  Their buds speak a promise that the Garden of Eden can be mine; that it will be mine.   Even the most mundane items like tomato cages are seasonal sculpture to my winter weary eyes.

I prepare the sleeping earth, awakening it from its slumber.  I till, rake and weed.  Come Mother’s Day, my hopeful offerings are in the ground, watered with love.  Yet everything I touch turns to dead.

The veggies are the cruelest disappointment of all.  As I tuck the tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and herbs into their potting soil blankets, I imagine I am a pioneer woman out on the prairie.  It is my job to grow the crops that will ultimately stand between my family and starvation.  In the back of my mind I am imagining the coming winter, when the bitter winds come howling around our soddie.  Can we say: “Donner, party of 4!”

Looking pretty good …for dead.

Last week I put the last of this season’s sacrifices into the pots and plots that may be their final resting places.  The flowers are blooming and I am hopeful.  But already things have gone horribly awry.  The lilies I planted last fall are up, tall, strong and starting to bloom.  At the same time, the leaves are turning brown and curling up. The lone hollyhock plant that came up is suffering the same fate.  I’ve looked in minute detail, but I can’t figure out what’s killing them.  It may be some kind of bug, blight, or infestation, but I suspect supernatural forces are at work.

So many promising tomato plants have died over the years in one of my beds I figure it must be unhallowed ground.  I may need an exorcism. I planted asparagus in that bed 3 years ago and harvested a grand total of 6 stalks this year.  Not all at once, mind you.  No, one at a time.  The rhubarb should be as big as celery stalks by now, but they look like anemic, purple pencils.  There will be no pie in my future.

I’m discouraged, but not beat.  I am going to keep on watering and weeding.  If this turns out to be yet another epic fail, I’ll console myself with this thought: I won’t have to go out and water when it’s really hot if everything is already dead.   Come August I can just hang out inside where it’s air conditioned and blame everything on malevolent garden spirits.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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64 Responses to Earth Priestess of Spring

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Don’t despair. Perhaps gardening is just not your special talent. Have you considered raising chickens instead?

    Like

  2. Our garden is actually wild and crazy this year– teeming with vegetables we did not plant, thanks to dumping the soil from the compost bin into the garden bed last fall. It’s really exciting… we’ll have so many fresh veggies if the squirrels don’t get to them first like they do every year. I’ll be sitting out there with my BB gun the minute we get our first tomato. Not this year, squirrels.

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  3. persuaded2go says:

    You still have one thing I lack: Desire. You are waaaaay further ahead already.

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  4. Tar-Buns says:

    Poor Pegoleg…I think it has to do with the lack of sun on your garden area. Pests could also be getting them but I can’t help you much as I can’t see that far. Try putting a few tomato plants in big pots on your deck – maybe they will work, but only one per big pot. Good luck! 🙂

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    • pegoleg says:

      I have one potted tomato and I have high hopes, but that doesn’t usually work for me either. Maybe you could be my live in gardener? Hmm??

      Like

      • Tar-Buns says:

        Congratulations on winning the Kaption Kontest, you Klever Kaptioner!!! 🙂
        Now, what contest will you be entering next? Gonna take a break? Hmmm?
        As for being your live in gardener, well, you should see all the stuff hubby has planted THIS year. I’ll be lucky to get away from watering and weeding to enjoy my summer and come visit. We’ll talk…
        We leave for Chicago tomorrow early. In the countdown, packing, paying bills, other fun stuff. Might even get my kitchen painted while gone – maybe…
        Smooches sista!

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        • pegoleg says:

          Thanks! It was lots of fun giving Darla the business, wasn’t it?

          Have a wonderful, wonderful time in Chi-town. I warmed them up for you a couple of weeks ago. Fingers crossed that your kitchen actually ends up painted – wouldn’t that be great!

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  5. HA!
    I guess I just can’t relate.
    I hate to brag, BUT…
    my backyard asphalt patch is looking EXCEPTIONALLY lovely so far this year…
    🙂

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  6. I’m terrible at gardening too, not just outdoor gardening, but managing to keep indoor potted plants alive too. I tend to think that gardening is rather like cooking; you either have the touch for it or you don’t – with gardening and cooking, two people can follow the exact same instructions and look like they are doing the exact same thing and yet the results are completely different. Yes, people can improve on gardening and cooking with some help and guidance, but if they don’t have the touch then they’re never going to produce anything of award winning standard!

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  7. At least you’re trying. That says a lot. I kill everything that can’t make noise to tell me it needs something.

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  8. I’ve been on this earth long enough to narrow down what I do well… 1) Avoid house plants, I kill them, but blame it on the fact that Willy (cat) eats even silk plants, 2) being smart enough to buy a condo so someone else does the gardening, 3) restricting myself to hanging flowering plants and railing boxes of hearty flowers on my porch rail. In my earlier days of determination I have been known to put up a chicken wire fence to keep critters out only to realize I planted the garden around a rabbit hole so the furry, long-eared vegetable pirates didn’t have to leave home for a snack. My dog was slithering under the fence and retrieving (yes it was a retriever) green tomatoes to “play ball with” and were found with tooth prints all over the yard. Good luck!!! There is always the strategy of supporting local farmers at farm stands!

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    • pegoleg says:

      Ha! How kind of you to plant a garden specifically for the rabbits. But don’t feel so bad. I’m pretty sure, based on years of watching cartoons in my youth, that even if you didn’t, Bugs Bunny would have some ACME invention to get him through to your veggies..

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  9. Have you considered that your mission in life might be to send the children of the local fruit and vegetable person to college?

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  10. We live in the high desert. Trying to grow things is like a meditation exercise in not getting attached to things. Then I visit people in the valley to the west, and there you spit out an apple seed and there’s a sapling the next morning. Makes me crazy.

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  11. Ooh, that does suck, Peg. I’ve got a green thumb. Mail me a first class ticket and I’ll be right over to help you. One year I used Miracle Grow and my tomato plants reached to the moon. I had so many tomatoes and cukes I was handing them out by the bag-full. This year I let Jim do the gardening…and…uh…he grew lots of lettuce. Lettuce filled with holes. But we do have one tiny yellow strawberry so that’s something.

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  12. Averyanne says:

    Your posts are such a delight! I just “stumbled” upon your blog. I am relating to this post because, like you, I was so eager to get my plants in and play in the dirt, monitoring nightly lows and daily highs until I was sure I was safe (I live in the mountains, where nobody is ever completely safe–from anything) and in went all my many plants. Enter high wind, timed sprinklers, then a night temp that dipped well below freezing and voila–all plants were limp and black the next morning. Not to be deterred, I am replanting and defiantly thumbing my nose at the freezing goddess. We shall see how it goes, but I’m going to remain stalwart.

    Keep writing and treating us all to your well crafted words and humor.

    Like

  13. Audrey says:

    That’s probably the most poetic ode to dead plants that I’ve heard! Hilarious but I’m so sorry for your veggies. I’m just as bad with gardening – the running joke is that I have a black thumb. Hoping you’ll have much better luck this year!!

    Like

  14. Go Jules Go says:

    And in August you can be all, “Well, guess it’s the diner again!” (Or better yet, some place that delivers.) I’m with Audrey, this is the most poetic ode to dead plants that I’ve ever heard!

    But I can send Peppermeister over here, stat, if you want. I will also tell you his latest trick, because it involves a story about ants that amazes me, and I hope will amaze you, too: You can spray a mixture of water and organic, all-natural dish soap on your plants. Apparently it’s not harmful to the plants (if it’s all-natural dish soap!), but kills the aphids, who suck the sap/plant-y goodness out of your dear tomatoes, etc. This helps control those bastard ants, who carry the aphids on their backs and hoist them up on the plants (because the ants are too heavy). Then, when the aphids are all nice and full and back on the ground, the ants go in for the kill, and suck the sap right out of them.

    I know.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Really? You made that up. Did you make that up? Was that the sequel to A Bug’s Life that Disney couldn’t get produced because it was just too graphically terrifying for children?

      Do you have to spray both sides of the leaves? I forgot Peppermeister is a, well, pepper meister. Can he come over and play in my garden while you and I sit on the deck drinking vodka?

      Like

  15. Lenore Diane says:

    Sit down, Peg. I have a confession. Are you sitting? In addition to not cooking – I don’t garden. I know. Shocking. Thankfully, Rob has a thumb – two actually. He’s growing peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. No garden bed – he just uses white big gallon jugs. (Big gallon = more than 1 gallon but I don’t know how many gallons)

    Oh and rhubarb? You are trying to grow rhubarb? You’ve made rhubarb pie? I know so very few folks that know about and/or make rhubarb pie. My Mom made that all the time.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I got enough last year to make 1 pie. Not even that much this year. My hubby is doing tomatoes in big white drums, but our land is so lousy he even took his drums off-site! He’s got them set up at his mom’s house. Maybe it’s something in the air here.

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  16. Sandy Sue says:

    I think I have some meds in the back of my closet that will take care of those pesky delusions. Let me go look…

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  17. Roly says:

    At least you tried. My sand patch remains just that. A sandpatch.

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  18. I love the joie de vivre (gah it sounds better in French but I probably misspelled it) you have for gardening. That is true love, like Charlie Brown kicking the football, to keep trying each year. I am afflicted by much the same disease. I love to start them off and plant them, but I lack attention to detail. Giggle.

    Oh–loved the Donner joke.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Charlie Brown and the inevitably yanked-away football – that is SO me and gardening, you nailed it El. And that’s probably what it comes down to; I start off all gung-ho but lose interest when it gets hot. Thank goodness we don’t have to live off my land!

      Like

  19. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Well. I’m sad for you, really! I adore gardening and all that it produces. But don’t give up, peg! Your soil may need enriching with compost and peat. Watering is good too. Veggies love a ton of sun. As far as bugs: Kill them. Kill them all.

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    • pegoleg says:

      I envy you your garden love.

      The sun is the big thing I can’t do anything about. We have some huge, old oak trees all over the property, which give lovely, cool shade. Maybe I should just give up and go with the natural look – poison ivy and weeds.

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  20. Mary Kay says:

    I am married to a farmer and you would think we have this fab garden, well, guess again. We planted flowers in our pots but the veggies we bought 2 weeks ago are on life support on our deck and I don’t think we are going to win this. I at least got the garden rototilled this year. I should be counting my blessings instead of crabbing about what did not get done. I. of course, have a brown thumb like yours. Maybe it’s heredity! Fun post, the visual is great.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I don’t think having churned-up dirt counts as much of a blessing if nothing ever gets planted there. It IS amazing that you don’t have the world’s best garden with Farmer Pat around, but you do get some lovely apples. Terry is the closest to a real farmer any of us seems to get.

      Like

  21. robincoyle says:

    Best line . . . “Donnor Party, Table for Four.” Cracked me up.

    Like

  22. Dana says:

    My hubby has one of the greenest thumbs known to mankind, but we live in a tiny box of an apartment with no windowsills, balcony, or earth of our own. Talents: Wasted. That said, we have some pretty mean (as in FEROCIOUS and LARGE) house plants. Who needs a guard dog when we’ve got a terrifying PRAYER PLANT? (I know prayers don’t *sound*/should not be intimidating, but believe me– these ones are.)

    Like

  23. Angie Z. says:

    “The rhubarb should be as big as celery stalks by now, but they look like anemic, purple pencils. There will be no pie in my future.” I’m sorry that I’m laughing my butt off at this line. Because “no pie in my future” is quite tragic in my mind.

    I kill philodendrons. NOBODY kills philodendrons. They tell you when they need to be watered. And I keep ignoring their limp, gimpy leaves thinking, just give me time to finish dinner, or finish mopping or finish this week. I’m a horrible person, Peg.

    Like

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