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The Black Widow of Horticulture meets the gardening guys

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published May 7, 2008, thehive.modbee.com

It wasn’t long after we got home from a recent birthday party that Big Guy started peering anxiously every half hour at the dirt-filled plastic cup. Planting sunflowers had been a combination favor/activity at the kid-friendliest gathering the guys have ever attended. “When’s it going to grow?” he’d ask.

“You have to give it a while,” I’d reply, quickly remembering that he defines “a while” as the time it takes to microwave popcorn, while I view it as at least the period between pay checks.“When’s it going to grow?” he’d ask again 30 minutes later.

“Tomorrow. We’ll check it tomorrow.”

It was three more tomorrows before the first tiny sprout appeared. “But where’s the flower?” he asked.

My love, you’ll be lucky if there’s ever a flower, I thought, but didn’t vocalize. Your mother is the Black Widow of Horticulture – she plants, she kills.

There is absolutely nothing in a garden I can’t goof up. My citrus trees have chronically yellow leaves, no matter how on the ball I think I’ve been about watering. My yard is a lovely shade of withered, with patches of dirt. I dumped a pretty impressive herb garden once after mites invaded. And I was a fool to give in when my sister insisted two years ago that I plant my precious gardenias outside. Poor things were gone in months.

Plants see me strolling through Home Depot and scurry into dark corners. “No! Don’t pick me! Don’t pick me!” Seems I have a bit of a reputation.So it just figures that the guys would wind up interested in gardening. They’ll probably wind up interested in science, too, since I have zip aptitude and even less interest in that area.

It was the oddest thing a few months back to hear Big Guy plan his back-yard garden filled with foods he refuses to eat. We’d plant potatoes – Big Guy-speak for tomatoes, so I’m not sure which it is he really hates — and peppers and make salsa, he told me.

I’d managed to fight him off with pleas of no time until the sunflowers moved in. As they grew, so did his determination to turn our subdivision lot into Green Acres. “When are we going to plant the potatoes?”

When the biggest sunflower spout reached about three inches, I knew it was time to transplant. Don’t ask me how I knew – like I said, I’m horrible at this.

We carried the cup outside and used a soup spoon to dig tiny holes. We moved the sprouts into their new homes, cozied them up with the soil from the cup and watered them.Then I waited. I knew there was no way they were going to live, which meant that, while I’d have a broken-hearted little boy, at least he’d quit yapping about planting potatoes.

Day One: Listing a bit, but still green.

Day Two: Standing tall, though Big Guy tried to drown them.

Day Three: Even the baby sprout is thriving. The bigger ones sport a second set of leaves.Could it be that this is going to work?

I realize there’s a long way between four-leaf sunflowers and the skyscraper blooms Big Guy dreams of.

Still, I’m cautiously optimistic. So if you see potato plants running for cover this weekend at Home Depot, you’ll know it’s me pushing the shopping cart.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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