Growing pains

Maybe because I spent so much of my working career in some form of computer field service I really feel drawn to dig in the dirt. What could be more antithetical or opposite to geeky computer techno activities than making mud pies. The irony, at least in my mind, is that computer chips are made of silicon. Silica is sand and just another form of dirt. So in one way or another it really all comes back to the basics of life.
I also have a strong genetic history of dirt diggers on my Mom’s side. Her Mom, my Grandmother was first generation German born in the United States. Grandma, and Grandpa had a farm. Dairy cows, chickens, and big gardens. Gram’s folks immigrated from Germany in 1891. They had farmed in Germany, and they farmed here. I know I am not zoned for milk cows, but the thought crosses my mind when the moon is blue. When Gram married Grandpa they farmed in addition to working at the saw mill and being a teacher. Grandpa’s family, what little I know of them, farmed and mined coal, and did whatever labor they could to make their way. And they made their way from Tennessee to Washington State in 1886. They lost all of their livestock because the trees were so close together that there was no room to raise feed crops to provide for their animals. I can’t imagine the sheer fortitude it took to live daily in the wooded forests of Washington State.
As a dirt digger and ever learning gardener I find that reading about growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables is a mediocre teacher. It seems to me that most publications about the planting, feeding, watering, doctoring, and harvesting are written with four seasons in mind. That’s would be more helpful if I lived in Kansas, or Ohio, or Bulgaria. Fact is: I live in the desert. We don’t have four seasons. We actually have a very short growing season because by the time the end of May comes around the plants that have not produced are about to become compost or kindling.
I got the bright idea a season ago to plant catnip. I have no idea way – it seemed a good idea at the time. My neighbor’s cats thought it was a great idea. Sometimes I would step out back and this grey cat with one white boot would just be stupid drunk and laying on it’s side. It would lift it’s lazy head to give me a quick once over and then it would ease it’s goofy face back to the mat of catnip. But catnip is related to the mint plant and while they both make nice additions to drinks like tea or hot chocolate they are a nuisance. They send underground runners out that take over the ground and rob moisture from whatever else is in their vicinity. They strangle the root system of whatever else is growing. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to dig out the catnip. But I can see that it has intertwined itself with the lavender, and the wormwood, and the tansy. There may be no way to save them because even if I get all the catnip that I can see – I know I will not be able to get all the runners that are beneath the soil and out of sight. This is a hard lesson to learn and maybe the proverb that says “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” is appropriate here. Now I know that is not a proverb from out of the Bible. I wish I could think of one, and I wish I had never planted catnip


About tnman

I was born, then I was born again.
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