Planting and patience, an oxymoron to me
April 23, 2020
When I was a child, everyone said that my father and I were like “two peas in a pod.”
Physically we had a strong family resemblance, similar mannerisms and a strong stubborn streak. Politely, we listened intently to people’s advice, then usually did what we had initially planned. Thankfully, the one thing I didn’t inherit from him was his horrific sense of direction, he could get lost going around the block, and did once when picking me up from school.
He hated gardening, he didn’t want to “man the grill,” he hated doing home repairs, and for sure, he was not a patient man. I remember a rare family road trip; we lived in Tucson and set out to visit family in Los Angeles. My mother had it all mapped out, they agreed to leave the house around 8:00 a.m. against my father’s suggestion to leave at 6. He capitulated, (not really), after we all went to bed, he set all the clocks in the house 2 hours ahead. We left at 6.
Like him, patience is not in my DNA, nor is gardening, but I am trying to learn, because it takes patience.
In Los Angeles, I had a gardener, but I “managed” the backyard. I had a bounty of herbs; rosemary, thyme, basil and lemon grass which all grew like weeds and grew all year long. My neighbor had a very prolific grapefruit tree, I had dwarf Meyer lemons, oranges and Fuji persimmons. My yard “management” consisted of watering, picking dead leaves off of the basil plants, and beating the rats, possums and squirrels to the persimmons, that was it! No frost, no earwigs, no checking the best time to plant things or buying amended soil, I just had to remember to water!
Last year, my first year here, I couldn’t wait to start planting after the snowy winter, the scourge of no patience: I planted everything three times. I planted, it froze, everything died. Two more cycles of plant, freeze, replace, and finally I had some lettuce, enough for two sandwiches and one petit salad, enough basil for one pizza, enough spinach for one small stuffed chicken breast, and one sweet bell pepper the size of a large grape. Then came the tomatoes—I was proud, I had tons! Confidence restored!
With great conviction, and three amazing large raised bed planters built by Daniel, we started our garden this year. The parsley, oregano and chives are still alive from last year, and we added more chives (thank you Kate), onions, (thank you Jennifer), Swiss chard, (thank you Ali). We then bought, tarragon, lettuce, arugula, radishes, sorrel, and of course, my favorite, basil. I babied the basil, I checked the weather, kept the plants in the house to protect them from the frost. Finally, the weather looked right, I carefully placed them into our new planter filled with amended soil, watered them, and picked off any dead leaves. But, lacking patience to wait for warmer weather = dead basil!
So now I am patiently waiting for warmer weather, and since my backyard has an abundance of crabgrass, I decided to start weeding. Not a fun activity but a necessary evil, it has evolved into a treasure hunt. Digging deep to get to the roots of crabgrass, I have found screwdrivers, a disintegrated rug, a 12” wrench, roofing tiles, a hammer and shovel, a Chevy logo from a truck, slate tiles, concrete blocks, broken glass, wood paneling, and the major discovery, a brick and flagstone path that traverses the entire width of our backyard. Also, I’ve become a whiz with a pick axe. So, continuing to hope for more treasures, I will keep digging. I just hope I don’t find a pet cemetery, or worse.