Frog and Toad, my not-so-green thumb, and a call for help

As you can see from the title, I am taking a different approach with our blog this week. I love blogging about reading and writing, but I want to include people beyond book lovers. So, my compromise is reflections inspired by children’s books. I will post every Tuesday, so I can participate in the Slice of Life blog hosted by http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/. Hope you enjoy.

This week’s passage is from “The Garden” in Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. For those of you who have not read the Frog and Toad books, Frog and Toad are best friends who do everything together. They are wonderfully distinct characters; in fact, whether you are “a Frog” or “a Toad” is probably an important philosophical question we should all ask ourselves at some point, but I’ll save that for another blog. In “The Garden,” Toad admires Frog’s garden and wants one too, so Frog gives him seeds. Toad runs home, plants the seeds, and then the following passage ensues:

“Now seeds,’” Toad said, “start growing.” Toad walked up and down a few times. The seeds did not start to grow. Toad put his head close to the ground and said loudly, “Now seeds, start growing!” Toad looked at the ground again. The seeds did not start to grow. Toad put his head very close to the ground and shouted, “NOW SEEDS, START GROWING!”

Reflections

A confession first: Matt, an excellent gardener, put in our garden this year because I have no idea how to do such things. He did not want a garden because he is a forester, which means he spends eight hours a day hiking in the woods often wielding heavy equipment. He (rightly) wanted to relax after work, not weed. However, in my excitement over my recent move to the country, I guilted him into planting one because who doesn’t have a garden in the country, right? I promised to tend to it but then never did. So, I will readily admit that all garden successes discussed are 100% due to Matt and all garden failures are 100% due to me.

It is probably clear by now that I am more of a Toad than a Frog when it comes to gardening (alas). Matt has been away these past two weeks, so I have taken over garden duties. Yesterday, I picked the first of our cherry tomatoes, and it was a transforming experience. Yes, I knew food from a garden was better than store-bought food, but I had forgotten how much better it was. I joyfully ate all our cherry tomatoes for breakfast this morning.

I then resolved to contact my sister-in-law, Melisa, for gardening advice (I think she has superhuman gardening talents- see below). I am already excited about my successful gardening blog next year but in the meantime, I’ve been reflecting on my mistakes this year. Not surprisingly, some are reasonable, some are embarrassing. This is what I have learned thus far:

  1. Taking measures to keep animals out of your garden is perhaps wise. At least two rows that Matt planted were instantaneously eaten by deer or some other lucky woodland creature.
  2. Some understanding of how much you should water your garden is helpful. I suspect our garden suffered from me not knowing how much water is too little or too much. I think I was guilty of both at times.
  3. The ability to identify a weed is useful. This is one I had been confident about until Matt mumbled something indecipherable under his breath when I volunteered to weed one day while he was at work. I decided I would rather have a garden full of weeds than have Matt come home to discover I had diligently pulled up everything he planted.
  4. Having some awareness of what was planted and where it was planted is both good for the garden and my ego, as it will likely lead to significantly fewer embarrassing moments. By the time I took over garden duties, seeing the plants through the weeds was difficult. I discovered our cucumbers today by complete accident. I suppose I should also add it is important to realize that garden-food can look different from store-food. The spiky cucumbers threw me for a loop, so I called Matt about it. He was confused by my spiky description: “Are you talking about the cucumbers? They’re hairy, Kate.” Spiky seems more accurate to me (another tip: wear gardening gloves), but regardless store cucumbers are neither spiky nor hairy. I also learned it is especially important to be aware of green foods, as they (surprise, surprise) blend with the leaves. When Matt asked about the peppers, I said that they hadn’t come in yet. He then mentioned he planted green peppers, so I looked a little closer and realized we had peppers galore.

So that’s all I’m willing to confess at the moment (yes, believe it or not, there are things more silly than not being able to correctly identify a cucumber!). In “The Garden,” Frog assumes his seeds are not growing because they are afraid of the dark. He spends four nights reading stories, singing, reading poetry, and playing music to the seeds. If this is what it took to have a successful garden, I’d like to state that I’d be an excellent gardener. However, I am open to alternatives. So, if any of you have gardening stories (even if they are examples of not-so-green thumb moments to make me feel better) or tips to share, I’d love to hear from you. How do you keep critters away? What do you like to grow best? Why do you like gardening? Please comment below and share with others. We look forward to hearing your stories and advice!

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My garden…really, it’s there.

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Melisa’s cornucopia!

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Niece and nephew, the next generation of super gardeners. Their skills have already surpassed mine, no doubt.