I’ve always wanted my own vegetable garden. Trouble is, I kill things. Not people, and not on purpose, but with other living things it tends to happen.
Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration is happening here; I managed to keep Boli the bunny (the only real pet I have ever known) alive for 5 1/2 years, which is pretty solid I guess. And Rasta, the ponytail palm so named for its dreadlock-like foliage, has been my faithful half-crusted-with-brown-decay houseplant for the better part of four years (though, gotta say, it’s looked like hell for the majority of that time). Frida and Marcial, the hermit crabs I inherited from my eccentric high school boyfriend and promptly named after the villains of my mother’s then-favourite telenovela, lasted a good two months until I moved to Toronto when, entrusted to the dubious care of my younger brothers, they quickly departed to the great neon crabshell in the sky.
Still, my history with gardening is less than stellar. I tried planting wildflowers in the backyard of my university co-op house a few summers ago. You’d think it’d be easy to get what are essentially regionally indigenous weeds to take root in a roomy swath of fertile Great Lakes soil. Wrong! I decided to blame the backyard itself, reasoning that its dirt was probably too tarnished by four decades of discarded cigarette butts to possibly accommodate my groundcover. But when my friend Liz managed to cultivate a gorgeous flowerbed in the much sketchier backyard next door, my horticultural uselessness could no longer be denied.
It isn’t fair. Good DIYers aren’t allowed to suck at gardening; instead, it is our duty to reap good little urban farms out of every square inch of available dust so we can cheerfully brag about the fruits of our mega-locavore labours come the end of season. Having lost the patience to make it through an entire knitting project, I’m already a few miles behind the better members of my subculture–now this?
But I’m nothing if not tenacious, so a few weeks ago I gave the old backyard garden a second go-around—this time, armed with the understanding that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. I consulted with the next door neighbour, whose own infant garden (“Chinese vegetables,” he told me), seems to be planted with some level of skill, and he suggested a spot in my yard that would receive amounts of light ideal for plant growth. Then, the interwebs: I googled “How to plant tomatoes” and, from information gleaned there, dug a trench and planted some heirloom seedlings. It’s been three weeks, and apart from the one that got mowed over by my elderly landlord, my tomato plants seem to be doing well. Jon has since added some peppers and herbs to the garden as well, so hopefully come August we’ll at least have a couple of salad ingredients to show for our efforts. Oh yeah, and the pride of having grown them ourselves.