Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Green Texas: Green Thumb

It's a good thing we weren't counting on home-grown vegetables from our garden for survival; if we had, we'd all be six feet underground by now.

When we last checked in on the garden (as in, when I last wrote about the garden) it seemed our vegetables were off to a good start. After starting the seeds in small pots and letting them sprout near a sunny window in our playroom, we'd transplanted the perky little plants into our homemade vegetable bed. We watered regularly and rejoiced when nearly all of them survived the move.
Fast forward a couple of months...

The tomato plants looked like rockstars: belligerent, superior and a little out of control. While there were no actual tomatoes yet, the plants were thriving and we felt confident we were well on our way to whipping up a batch of garden-fresh salsa.

The onion plants, perhaps like a personal assistant would on behalf of their rockstar employer, sacrificed themselves for the future success of the tomatoes. (The growing tomatoes monopolized the bed and essentially created an umbrella of darkness over the onion plants.) We filed their unfortunate demise in a folder labeled "learning experience".

The pepper plants were producing flowers, which Tom assured me meant they would eventually also produce peppers. As the opening act (I have no idea why I started and am continuing with this strange, rockstar theme), the pepper plants were a nice bonus but weren't why I bought my ticket in the first place.

The lettuce (roadies?) was eaten by bunnies, but our spinach...oh, our spinach. Talk about a backstage pass. There wasn't much of it and it didn't last very long, but the three salads Tom and I made with those beautiful green leaves were amazing. We were so proud of ourselves and our seemingly green thumbs.
- End Rockstar Theme -

The day we picked our first pepper and tomato off the vines was a special one.

Tom, Will, Hallie and I had worked together to design and build our vegetable bed, and then we'd together planted hundreds of vegetable seeds and nurtured them into budding vegetable plants. I was proud of our hard work, inspired by our progress, and full of hope for the future of the plants.

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."  I can honestly say that watching our garden grow made every day's "tomorrow" look a little bit brighter.

But from that point on, our plants starting sliding down the slippery slope toward failure at a good clip. For some reason our tomato plants grew and grew and grew, to the point that they started snuffing each other out, weighing each other down, and blocking each other's sunlight.  The green tomatoes never turned red, and eventually the tomato vines took on the look of tomato weeds and animals started dining on the green tomatoes.

My mood took a dive as well; like our tomato plants, I felt a little like something was blocking my sun (and it's tough to feel like you're not getting enough sun when you live in Texas).

So out the five vegetables we planted back in April (tomatoes, onions, peppers, lettuce, and spinach), we really only succeeded in growing two of them. That's a 40% success rate, which I consider pretty pathetic. Thank goodness we only live a mile and a half from Kroger.

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