// June 13th, 2012 // Uncategorized

     My grandpa was a backyard gardener extraordinaire. From the 1940s through the 60s, he and Grandma owned a double lot on Century Blvd in Los Angeles. Half of their property was dedicated to the home they raised their eight children in, two small yards edged with flowers, and in the back stood a garage that doubled as Grandpa’s woodworking shop. On the other half of the property Grandpa set aside space for the kids to play and another area for his enormous garden, where he grew a variety of vegetables, including lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, and beets. The lavender tops of his turnips enticed four-year-old me to struggle one from the ground one day. After carefully wiping the root on my dress, I bit into it, only to discover a pungent white flesh and gritty dirt, not the sweetness of the same-purple jellybeans it reminded me of. On warm summer afternoons, the red juice of ripe strawberries flowed down my chin as I snacked from the rows while Grandma filled her basket for fresh strawberry pies.  

     These visions of the perfect garden still dance in my mind fifty-five years later. I have often set out to replicate a small portion of this memory in my own yard. I make several trips to Lowe’s to purchase large bags of soil for my containers and small raised-bed garden. I buy pony packs of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and melons. I buy enough Cory’s Snail and Slug killer to last the season. I plant. I water. I watch. I watch as my plants disappear one by one to the birds, snails, and bunnies.

     I rejoice when flowers appear on my tomato plants, and when yellow blossoms unfurl on trailing cucumber vines. I despair when those blossoms vanish during the night.

     By the end of the growing season, if any of my plants survive long enough to produce, I serve my family some of the most expensive produce in the county, nay…in the state! My handful of tomatoes, three thin-skinned bell peppers, and two {lemony tasting} cucumbers last summer cost about $55.00 a pound. My biggest success came from three small jalapeno plants, with a few dozen fruits ripening to a sweet heat.

     As spring dictates, this year I made my annual trips to Lowe’s, planted my dream, and have watered, hoped, and watched. But the snails have figured out how to vault over the Corey’s and devour my melon seedlings and basil. Birds pick at my still-green tomatoes.

     As I watered my dwindling garden this morning, I finally accepted what I have known­­­­ all along­­—I’m not a gardener. It’s time I take advantage of the local farmers’ market each week and spend my gardening time {and money} on other activities.

     Oh, I’ll plant sweet peas with my grandkids, and maybe even buy a potted tomato plant from Costco in the spring, but, as much as it pains me to admit, it’s far past time for me to give up my dream of an abundant garden like Grandpa’s.

     And you know what? That’s okay…..

Still looking forward….

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