Rot­ten end to fruits of labour in gar­den

Gar­den­ing and grat­i­fi­ca­tion are a recipe for fail­ure

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian.

MY hus­band and I are not among the world’s great gar­den­ers.

But we try to make up for in­ep­ti­tude with sud­den bursts of en­thu­si­asm – usu­ally co­in­cid­ing with spring, or one of our kids ask­ing if onions grow on trees.

So we form grand plans for a week­end of veg­etable sow­ing. He takes the chil­dren to the new­born-plant shop and they make eclec­tic, am­bi­tious pur­chases – say, radic­chio, broc­coli and wa­ter­melon.

They also buy a 20kg bag of soil, of which we use about 2kg and the rest goes into the shed with all the other 18kg bags of left­over soil.

When they get home, my hus­band su­per­vises the plant­ing, cheer­fully ig­nor­ing the di­rec­tions on the seed pack­ets, in the same way all men dis­re­gard road maps.

Then the chil­dren do enough wa­ter­ing to recre­ate the Three Gorges Dam and we wait for the magic to hap­pen.

And that’s where the trou­ble starts. Peo­ple say “kids love gar­den­ing”, which is true – but kids also love in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion and those two pas­sions are sadly not com­pat­i­ble.

Three hours af­ter bed­ding down our baby veg­eta­bles for no vis­i­ble re­sult, the chil­dren lose in­ter­est and our fledgling plants’ fu­ture is left to wither in my un­green fin­gers.

I do try. We’ve had a cou­ple of abysmal stabs at car­rots.

They look so lush and promis­ing and yet, at the great re­veal, they’re found to be stunted and bit­ter, like or­ange radishes.

We achieved rea­son­able ac­cu­racy once in plant­ing our old rot­ting pota­toes, which did ex­actly what they said on the box – by pro­duc- ing more rot­ting pota­toes.

We did, how­ever, have huge suc­cess in a re­verse plant psy­chol­ogy ex­per­i­ment by ac­tively ne­glect­ing a pump­kin seedling.

In an alarm­ingly short time, it grew un­aided into a mam­moth green leafy thing, like that blood-drinking plant in Lit­tle Shop of Hor­rors.

It curled its way out of the tub and crept at a men­ac­ing pace across the deck to­wards the back door.

Even­tu­ally we be­came con­vinced it would stran­gle us in our beds at night, so we had to kill it or be killed.

Pre­dictably, it bore no pumpkins. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

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