Monday, May 23, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Summer is here. Sort of. It's the Victoria Day weekend here, the unofficial start to summer. Sometimes the weather co-operates and sometimes it does not. This year, it's a bit shifty and prone to sudden mood swings, but mostly a good Victoria Day weekend. (Considering we've had the yuckiest winter and spring in recent memory, AND the world was supposed to end on Saturday, I'd say we're doing fine with a windy, cool day with the odd shower.)

In southwestern Ontario, May 24th is the weekend when you're pretty much guaranteed that the danger of frost is past, and you can put in your bedding plants and vegetable gardens. This means that the garden centres are heaving, mosh pits of sweaty, middle-aged gardeners willing to fight to the death over the last basil plant or a particularly fetching varitey of Martha Washington geranium. Usually, the Mister and I go either the week before or the week after Victoria Day, but somehow found ourselves going yesterday morning, feeling like we were heading into the Battle of the Somme.

The parking lot was full, which we expected, and there was hardly any tussle over getting a little cart in which to trot around our purchases. Luckily, they brought a whole bunch over to the entrance just as we got there; I'd have hated to have to body check anyone so foolish as to get in my way.

First stop was the vegetable/herb section of the nursery. The Mister tried mightily every year to grow such things as broccoli, brussel sprouts, watermelons and strawberries, and every year he is pitifully disappointed. Whatever the reason, we usually only get a broccoli the size of your fist, or a watermelon resembling a baseball.
We do very well, though, with tomatoes, corn and cucumbers. And zucchini; the easiest thing in the entire world to grow is zucchini....all you have to do is show the seeds some soil and they sprout, and with an entire summer of willful neglect and cool disgregard for watering or care of any kind, those plants will each give off approximately one hundred zucchini, each the size of your leg. We bought 4. (I have noticed a disturbing correlation between the ease of prodution and the popularity of the harvest.....the less we like a vegetable, the easier it is to produce copious amounts of it. We once grew enough Swiss Chard to fill a van, and we ate about 3 leaves each of it. None of us like Swiss Chard all that much, and practially had to used a machete to find the back door to the house.)

We got some basil, rosemary and dill, which all make me happy, and the sage, thyme, chives and mint all come up every year without any prodding on our part. We have some catnip for Toby, which can only be adminstered in small doses at sporadic intervals. Last year he was found lying on top of the plant, completely stoned out of his head and utterly useless for days aftewards.

The Mister and I wrote up a list of things we wanted to get for the flower beds, and we had to firmly and absolutley swear to each other that we would stray NOT AT ALL from it, because the two of us are not to be trusted when it comes to buying for the flower beds and the hanging pots. We are like recovering gambling addicts in a casino.....we think we can handle our impulses, and we fail, every time. More than once we have come home from the garden center and unloaded the van, while saying "what IS this?" and "where is this going, exactly?" and "did YOU buy this?". It's like we are in a bedding plant-induced haze and we only come to when we get home.

This year we were VERY good and only bought what we came for, and had to give each other a stern talking to only once or twice. (There was a bit of an incident at the trailing lobelia section, and some strong words amongst the impatiens. Who knew he could have such inflexible opinions on "rose" vs. "pink"?)

Everything got put into the ground yesterday, and our garden looks like it might actually produce some produce. And we are still speaking to each other.
It's a good start to the summer.

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