My thumb isn't green, it's chartreuse. Some things grow well, and others don't. I'm not very good at remembering to water them. When the leaves wilt, I usually remember. Some times even that isn't enough.
When I plant flowers in flower pots and hanging containers, I put a piece of florist foam over the hole in the bottom of the pot. It still allows for drainage when the rain soaks the soil, but when I forget to water the pot, it keeps the water from running out of the hole without moistening the dirt.
I don't buy new florist foam. I save foam from cut flower arrangements. It's easy to cut with a sharp knife.
My watering routine is that when I go out on the back porch to drink a glass of lemonade, I dump the ice on a plant when I am done. The ice melts slowly, which gives it time to soak into the dirt. It means that the plant will get a little water every few days, which is better than no water at all.
My mother lives on a farmette, three acres of land in rural Arkansas. My father’s secret
desire was to be a farmer, and after he left the ministry, he fulfilled that desire by buying that property. He had several large truck gardens and grew a variety of vegetables, including corn, asparagus and tomatoes.
Now that he’s gone, the gardens have gone back to natural grass. Mom keeps the grass mowed in self-defense. When it’s long, grasshoppers set in and chiggers thrive.
In among the grass are bunches of wild daisies. Her neighbors all mow their daisies, but my mother mows around them. Even though they’re not as big or showy as the garden variety, she still appreciates their beauty.
That’s pretty much the way Mom looks at everything. She sees the good for what it is, even if it could have been better. She mows the weeds, memories of bad times, short and keeps them in perspective. Like mulch made from weeds, she turns her own sorrow into compassion and uses it to nourish her relationships with other people.
Dad was a manic depressive. Living with him for forty years wasn’t always easy. He didn’t always receive the love others tried to show him. He accused us of hurting him by
reinterpreting our words and actions in ways that were never intended. He used emotional weapons—guilt, anger, rejection—to get even with us for things we never
But he could be thoughtful, too. He supported our career choices by sending us to college and buying things we needed. He took us on horseback rides when we were small. He gave us piggy back rides and taught us how to fish.
When we think about him now, we have a choice of recalling the thoughtless things, or the caring things he did. Like my mother’s pasture, we can cut the weeds short and mow around the daisies, taking their beauty in their wild state, accepting them for what they are without comparing them to the ones in the florist shop.
Or, we can consider the daisies to be weeds, too, and mow the whole thing down. But what is there to show in that?
Or, again, we can let our thoughts grow wild, and allow every memory, good and bad, to grow to their full height. Weeds grow taller than grass, taller than flowers, and if left alone, will overshadow and choke out the wildflowers. Then, the grass hoppers will set in, and the chiggers thrive; anger, resentment, self-pity, remorse.
It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re eaten up with chigger bites. It’s equally hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re eaten up with anger.
When I visit Mom and see the wild flowers left to grow, I remember that. Maybe that’s why she lets them grow, too. Maybe, when she thinks about Dad, her thoughts are like the daisies.
In memory of Arleen G. Knoderer
June 4, 1921 to April 23, 2013
Rest in Peace
Last year I planted three packets of green beans. Only five of the seeds sprouted. The squirrels didn't get them because I didn't see any digging holes in the soil. I wasn't sure what the culprit was.
This year my garden is doing much better. All of the green beans I planted sprouted.
The difference could be to several factors. First of all, I added another landscaping timber to the edge of the garden, and added four bags of garden soil and four bags of cow manure. This raised the garden up three inches. A gardener at Semmes Elementary told me that a raised garden sprouts earlier because the soil gets warmer quicker.
I also have carpenter ants living in the landscaping timbers. I treated the ants twice during the week before I built the garden up. I can't say for sure, but carpenter ants may have eaten the seeds I planted last year.
When we purchased tomato plants, I told my husband I needed ones that are nematode resistant. The tag on the pot didn't have the typical N that stands for this type of plant, so my husband asked the salesman. He recommended adding lime to the soil to prevent these bugs from attacking the roots.
I also read an article that said old milk helps chase away nematodes, too. Whenever I have old milk I pour it on the garden.
Well, so far, so good. I just wanted to pass that news along.