01 July 2010

The Vegetable Gene

I planted a garden. I took those little plant-starts tenderly out of their plastic and tucked them into new dirt homes in our backyard. I was a good gardener. I tilled the ground, de-rocked the dirt, and put a little water into the bottom of the holes before setting the plants inside. He helped me fertilize a bit-- all in an effort to give the dirt a little more life.

After the planting, I sat in our flower-power porch chair and looked at the plants. I knew, right then, that these plants would be the joy of my summer days.

My mom was an avid gardener. It's a gene that she carried from her father. My grandpa. I wrote an essay once, My Grandpa, the Vegetable Man. Yes, he's a vegetable man with a garden like you've never seen-- massive, green, abundant. He's known to say-- It's been twenty years since I've bought a vegetable. He says it proud.

Well-earned pride, I'd say.

I didn't know that the gene had come through to me until I was sitting in the chair on the porch. I felt the adrenalin of excitement pulse as I imagined the tomatoes and the zucchini that I would be harvesting in just a few weeks time. It said six weeks on the carrot seed packet.

The next morning, the plants were dead. One night, I was sitting on the flower-power chair dreaming of peppers and carrots. The next morning, I sat on the strip of sidewalk by the now-dead plants. One night. Twelve hours. That's how long my dreams lasted. I don't want to say I cried. I didn't. But I'm not exaggerating when I say that there were tears involved. They just didn't overflow very fast. But there were tears.

Because you see, I wanted a garden real bad. It's just that that life-giving fertilizer was death to the dirt. Fertilizer can be bad for dirt. Too much fertilizer and no time to let the dirt cool off. I didn't know the dangers.

I'm not a vegetable man.


Rebecca Woolf said...

Cute post! Ah you are such a great writer.

Caitlin said...

You know what, my dad also loved having a vegetable garden. The garden in my mom's backyard has severely dwindled since his death. Maybe you and I should have a shared garden in honor of our deceased parents. And if the plants die it says nothing about our love for them.