Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ignorance about gardening

A few weeks ago, I transplanted some snap pea seedlings into my Minton Stable Garden plot. I had started them indoors out of panic because the seeds I had sown in my backyard seemed to be taking too long to come up. I had no structure in place for them to climb, so I grabbed a tomato ring and some string and fashioned one. But not only did I fail to consider that it would not be tall enough for the plants to climb, but that the plants would need more supports to get them climbing. They have been flopping over in the wind and attaching themselves to each other.

There was a time back in my earlier community gardening days when I would have been mortally embarrassed by this sort of development. Despite the advantage of the opportunity to garden in such close contact with others who could provide me with tips and insights, there existed the disadvantage of those others witnessing my acts of gardening ignorance. What were some of the examples of my amateurism? I don't recall all of them that well, but they usually involved a) not staking up the tomatoes very well, b) transplanting at the wrong time, or c) planting seeds or seedlings too close together.

I'll occasionally hear newer gardeners doubt their own proficiency. "I don't know what I'm doing," they'll say, or "How did you get your basil to grow like that?" Perhaps, like me, they thought that while growing up they were too cool for their parents' hobby but found themselves in adulthood hoping that something genetic would take hold.

But if my experience is any indication, a few years later they'll feel much less self-conscious. Maybe they too will realize that they don't give a damn what others think about their tomato plants that keep falling over, and that no one is really noticing anyway. In fact, they will likely be experiencing lots more success--some of it from observation or from trial and error--without much thought about it.

And maybe, like one former Minton Stable gardener who shall remain nameless, they can share a funny story about gardening ignorance without burning up in shame over it. Like the time they thought they were being so pro-active by deadheading the flowers off their tomato plants.


Dan said...

If it is any conciliation by peas are all laying on the ground to from the wind. I keep hoping one of these days they will take hold.

Bryan Bunch said...

Snap peas and snow peas (I don't do regular peas) always take a long time to germinate, which can cause panic. I alway plant mine close to a fence (rabbit-wire, although chicken-wire would do). The fence goes right to the ground, so they have no trouble usually in finding it and climbing, although occasionally I find a plant that has leaned the wrong direction. Then I lean it toward the fence and gently loop tendrils around the wire (often using a pea leaf as a kind of hook to keep the plant from leaning back the other way. This year two of my dwarf grey sugars had appeared about a foot from the fence, for reasons I fail to understand. I dug them both up and moved them to a spot near the fence where there was a slight gap. That was a couple of days ago, and I forgot about it until now, so I don't know whether the late and rather casual transplant actually took hold. I did not try to water them in, which I might have done except for all the plants along the fence that were doing well. So far this year (knock wood) no groundhog. Pea seedlings are the groundhogs favorite or second favorite food (chard is the other woodchuck choice).