Rotten end to fruits of labour in garden
Gardening and gratification are a recipe for failure
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