Thursday, July 17, 2008


Several years ago, I decided to try my luck with gardening once again after a three-year hiatus. I can’t say for sure why I quit the practice of gardening, but it was likely linked to two more children, astonishingly hot temperatures, lack of rain, and the memory of digging a freshly-shelled pea out of the nose of my three-year-old son.

But one year, I had no more excuses to neglect the task, so I yielded to the pleas of my children and set out one spring day to plant the seeds. Thanks to a screaming baby and a bit too much help from his siblings, that planting session lasted exactly 9 minutes. I completed the planting by the glow of the yard light after the helpers were all tucked in bed.

My husband, the farmer, set out in a friendly competition to grow a bigger, better garden than what I could produce. Throughout the summer, he thieved my seeds, my hose, my sprinkler, and my fertilizer in an attempt to demonstrate his superior gardening skills. I was undaunted by his challenge, but I was horrified when he told me that he had taken the zucchini seeds and had planted them.

All of them.

I warned him that a single plant could produce an annoying amount of squash, but he did not seem alarmed. I had frightening visions of myself becoming a zucchini pusher on the streets of our small town, forcing squash upon my unsuspecting neighbors and lurking in the church parking lot where no one locks their car doors.

Whenever he wasn’t looking, I snuck down to his garden plot, searching the ground for signs of emerging plants. I quietly breathed a sigh of relief when his plot failed him; only a few zucchini plants emerged in the row he was hoping to fill.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed tending my own garden. I relished the quiet peace I found while weeding between the rows in the evening. I enjoyed teaching the kids about plants, weeds, and nurturing new life. I especially took pleasure in serving fresh vegetables to my family at dinner.

Only when we returned home from a short vacation did I remember the real reason that I had ceased to garden: you reap what you sow.

Keeping up with the produce from my tiny garden plot became quite a challenge, and it turned out that my husband’s ploy to turn me into a zucchini pusher became a reality. With eight to 10 of the squash on my counter at all times, I was reduced to begging my family and friends to take them off my hands.

I bought a food processor so I could grind the stuff up small enough to hide it in casseroles, brownies, cookies, and cakes. I scoured the Internet for recipes and stuffed zucchini bread down my children for three meals a day. I fried it in so much oil that all the nutritional value was sucked out and replaced by cholesterol. One would think that I would have just given up and thrown it out, but I have enough of my parents’ thriftiness instilled in me that I could not bear to do it. I stopped short, however, of making the recipe I discovered for zucchini gravy.

Last year, a hailstorm eradicated most of my garden, and this year a cold spring caused spotty seed emergence. The zucchini just didn’t germinate, and I find myself missing it.

I guess I’ll just have to make sure the car doors are unlocked the next time I go to church.


Brian from Central IL said...

I planted watermelon for the first time ever this year. Package said to plant the seeds in mounds five feet apart, which I did. However after I ran out of room for more than three mounds and a packet of seeds left I figured, what do the seed people know, and planted in a neat row along the southern edge of the garden. THe mounds did not llok as good as my row and I felt proud I had bested the seed company. More good joyed emerged at the first sign of golfball sized fruit. Now I know why the seed people were in fact more correct than I, as of today the vines are into the yard, onions, and making their way toward the beans. Oh well, I got watermelon!

Jenny said...

This year our garden was my daughter's 4-H project. Which only means that I was hoping SHE would do more tending to it than I would. Unfortunately, drift from a cropduster has burnt back the tomatoes and I have yet to see one squash or zucchini on my abundant green plants. Rather depressing. I think next year I'll try minimal amounts of vegetables in containers on the patio.

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