Green thumb-Chapter Five-Now, really, who can’t grow lettuce!

Plants we want to nurture and grow in our garden: update

Our garden has been planted for all of three weeks now.  That means most things have reached or exceeded their expected germination time-as far as one can see on the seed packet.  That also means pretty much everything should be showing up above ground.  We’ve had some pretty hot and alternately pretty wet days along the way.  And so, with great anticipation we journeyed to the garden a couple of days ago.  And indeed many things are up…some well up.  Our potatoes are up and it is a true story-these really are our potatoes.We weeded around them and did some hilling.  I won’t tell you how long it’s been since I hilled potatoes but suffice to say many of you who might be glancing at this blog might not have been born when, as a teenager,  I dragged myself out to the potato patch on our family farm on the prairies.

You can take the girl from the farm but can you take the farm from the girl

When you live on a farm there are a number of things that you do that urbanites don’t need or have opportunity to do.  Like mucking out the stalls where cows and pigs and horses do their thing.  Or being part of the assembly line when chickens meet their Waterloo and end up ultimately on the Sunday dinner table.  Or perhaps killing mice with a baseball bat as they scampered around the granary. Shooting gophers and muskrats with a 22 calibre rifle.  And on and on.  It’s what you did.  

I am now, and have been for many years, far removed from the farming milieu.  So do you ever lose what ever it is you became accustomed to during those formative years?  Yes and no.  No, for on some level, the reasoning you learn living on and by the land serves you well all your life.  Yes you lose some things, for the life and death I observed with birds and animals, domestic and wild was just part of the life, I am struck by what a sissy pants I have become.  Case in point: those potatoes in the picture have potato bugs on them.  Hard shelled slow-moving creatures that you can easily squish and kill between your fingers.  And you know what?  I was somewhat grossed out by doing it-rather then just squashing the beggars, I was looking for two surfaces where I could pancake the bugs so I wouldn’t have to touch them.  Honestly, it pains me to even blog about it.  My mother and father, were they alive, would have something to say about this development I’m sure.  I plan to go at it with new resolve (and thicker garden gloves), the next time I am out there.  

Imitation-highest form of flattery

In the book Second Nature by Michael Pollan, he describes how some weeds imitate the crops they are being cosy with.  The example he gives is wild oats-the plant will take on different characteristics when it grows next to different crops.  Just this week I listened to a program that described how some insects imitate plants in order to prey on the plant itself.  For instance, the insect may give off certain fragrances to attract the plant and then eat its little heart out.  Honestly, that’s pretty crafty.  We now have an example of imitation in our garden-is it a desirable vegetable or an undesirable weed.  I’d estimate what you are looking at is 97% weed and 3% carrots.  The weeds are trying to look like carrots.

Now really, who can’t grow lettuce

While we surveyed the garden, with the little plants that are growing, we were happy with some things and perplexed by other things.   We squished bugs (yuck) and dug up weeds and hunted for what should have been rows of carrots and beets.  Where are they?  We congratulated those plants that were doing well and talked tough to those things that were faltering: “You can be replaced, you know!”.   We have one embarrassing reality to face.  Our lettuce didn’t come up.  Really, who can’t grow lettuce!  It must be the seed.  Or maybe in the marathon that was our late spring planting weekend, we never actually put the seed in the ground.  That sounds like a true story, doesn ‘t it?  Any advice on growing lettuce would be welcome.

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2 Responses to Green thumb-Chapter Five-Now, really, who can’t grow lettuce!

  1. Planting it does help. Like winning the lottery, you do have to buy a ticket.
    Don’t squish potato bugs. Drop them into a can of BBQ lighter fluid (coal oil if you can find it)
    My grandfather, back in the ’30s, sent $1 for an organic non-chemical potato bug killer and received two pieces of wood in the mail with instructions to put bug on board and hit it with other board. That would likely sell today in the kind of environment you live in.

    • I wonder if they have a patent on that organic non-chemical potato bug killer. If not, perhaps I could go into business and produce and market a knock off. I could likely alter the design enough to patent something different. All of my inventions involve duct tape and parts of wire coat hangers.

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