I have a confession: I’ve never been a successful gardener. Okay, maybe that is a well-known fact to most people who know me, so there’s no need to say it so conspiratorially. My gardening failures did not result from a lack of effort, though I’ve learned this year that the effort required to grow a garden, especially in a high-altitude extreme-temperature climate, can be rather unreasonable.
Enter Bo, whose picture is undoubtedly in some phrase dictionary accompanying the entry for “attention to detail.” He planted, watered, transplanted, watered, fed, watered, and/or otherwise nurtured all the plants whose photos are in this post. Oh, and did I mention watering?We had a lot of rain in May, so it’s only now becoming clear how much supplemental watering will be required to keep plants alive. I harp on the water issue because it was the biggest contributor to my gardening failures in eastern Oregon. If I’d only spent as much on my water bills as I did on various sprinkler timers and hoses, maybe more plants would have survived. Then again, living in the desert on a hilltop and pumping water uphill from the city’s tank may have spelled failure from the beginning. Okay, okay… the previous resident of my house cultivated roses, lilacs, fruit trees, and various other flowers and shrubberies– by carrying water in buckets up the hill from the city ditch. But she was retired, so maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad about my failures.We’ve got four kinds of lettuce: romaine, baby romaine, red sail, and this one above, whose proper name we forgot, so we call it Sideshow Bob lettuce. They are all producing like mad, and even we, who eat salad with every dinner, have had to step up our consumption and will probably start giving away grocery bags of the stuff just so that we can keep up with it before it all decides to bolt and become inedible. And yes, that is a strawberry plant on the left. I can’t believe we have strawberries (purchased as seedlings from the local nursery); they seem so decadent to try to cultivate in one’s garden. But they are for the most part very happy, and producing little berries all the time. The only reason Bo and I have only eaten two strawberries apiece is that some late-night marauder– squirrel? songbird? raccoon?– seems to keep beating us to them just as the berries get to the last part of the unripe stage. Regardless, I still am in awe every time I look at one of the berry plants happily sending out shoots and producing little berries.I think the pepper plants are the cheeriest members of the garden community. Regardless of how hot it gets or how much watering they receive, they always keep their slightly waxy, dark green appearance and don’t get too wilty. I have my doubts about whether they will manage to develop any peppers big enough to eat, but they do inspire hope.Under the category of Things we Did Not Plant sit the rose bushes along the fence, which looked dead until Bo trimmed off the dead branches and started feeding and watering them. Amazing!Then there are the sweetpeas, which seem to grow wild and crazy all throughout the neighborhoods of Golden. No matter: they can grow all they want on our chainlink fence.Last but not least is the pumpkin and squash patch in the front yard. This was my idea, since the only things I grew successfully in Dayville with barely a lick of work were winter squash and pumpkins. I didn’t even plant them– they just volunteered from the dregs of compost I spread on the soil. My 4th grade teacher always said that success comes from 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration, so I should give credit where it’s due: to Bo for prepping the soil and mulch, and to him and his brother Jameson for putting the plants in the ground. It looks like we will start eating zucchini in a few days! This is exciting, and that’s how you can tell what a novice and failed gardener I am. Excited about eating zucchini? In a few weeks I’ll be surreptitiously slipping them into my co-workers’ tote bags and leaving them on our neighbors’ doorsteps before ringing the bell and running away. But it’s always nice to feel the anticipation, isn’t it? I guess that’s a big part of what gardening is about.