A funny thing happened on the way to the garden

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By Jesse Osbourne


About this time each year, I have to pull a bundle of dried up flowers from the pots on our front porch.

My thumb is the opposite of green.
I do OK for a few weeks or a month, but after a while I stop watering the poor plants.
It’s not because I’m cruel. I’m just forgetful and sometimes pretty busy. By the time I’ve noticed the crusty vegetation, it’s far past the point of revival.
This year, however, is my year.
In the past, I groan at the mere mention of planting flowers around our house.
“You know we can’t even keep a cactus alive, right?” I tell my wife.
She usually just nods her head in agreement.
Not this year.
One of her students was selling bulbs through a program at school. She bought some - after we had a long discussion - because the student offered to plant the bulbs for us.
Long story short, I ended up planting the bulbs.
I remember that it was a hot day and I was hot about planting the darn things. For one, I knew we shouldn’t have bought the plants. Secondly, these poor plants would be better off at a different, more capable home.
I read the instructions on the bag, dug some holes and dropped the bulbs in the ground with some water.
“Well, I guess I’ll never see those again,” I thought to myself.
A month or so later, we’ve got lillies sprouting in our flower bed.
It wasn’t a complete success, however. Only four of the five bulbs survived. I’m not sure what happened, but I suspect our amazing butterfly bush is providing too much shade for the lost lilly.
But, it wasn’t for a lack of water. I haven’t forgotten to water my plants yet.
Confident in my newfound abilities, I decided to try my hand at vegetables.
So, I bought seeds for bibb lettuce and spinach (two of my favorite salad leaves).
I picked up some potting soil and some planters and sowed my leaf-bearing seeds.
Like when I planted the lilly bulbs, I placed the seeds in the dirt and thought to myself that I would never see the product those seeds would bear.
And I haven’t yet. It’s only been a few days, but I can’t wait.
The morning after I planted the seeds, my daughter and I went to check on the soil.
When we came back inside the house, I jokingly told my wife that we didn’t have any lettuce or spinach yet. It’s become a running joke between us every time I obsessively check on my pot filled with dirt.
I never thought I would be this way.
When I was young, my parents had a huge garden. Rows and rows (and rows) of vegetables that I wasn’t interested in eating.
My job, the way I remember it, was to keep every single weed out of that garden.
I have memories of pulling tiny weeds from watermelon mounds and hoeing corn rows only to find that a few more tiny weeds popped up overnight.
I remember excusing myself from spreading manure on the garden with Dad because it made me nauseous. It did, kind of, but I think I was really looking for a good reason to not spread manure. Sorry, Dad.
Weekends, it seemed, were lost to unearthing potatoes and pulling them from the ground. My goodness, there were so many potatoes.
Needless to say, my memories of all the hard work and time it takes to grow vegetables have kept me from planting a garden.
But, part of me is hooked now. I want to keep these plants alive.
Plus, this process has made me stop and think of something simple, yet incredible.
If you combine a seed, some good dirt and water, you can make food. It may sound silly, but that’s not something I’ve stopped very often to think about, much less practice.
Here’s hoping the spinach and lettuce make it, as well as the lillies. Wish me luck.