essays

Garden Dreams

zuccini blossomI dream about Zucchini-- what to do with it all.  I was surprised to find out (from Wikipedia) that zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower.  Now that I know that my over abundant plants are full of swollen ovaries (ouch), I try to catch those ovaries before they get to the size of shillelaghs.  But that sort of happens over night, doesn’t it?  One is supposed to pick this creature when it is about 8 inches long, rather than two or three feet.  But I think I’d have to be “out there” staring at the plant to catch it when it goes from four inches to eight.  Frankly I think it skips eight inches altogether.  One day it is 4 inches long and the next it’s a shillelagh.  Guess I’d better stand watch or get cookin’.

I have bind weed nightmares. The more I pull up the more it grows until I’m absolutely exhausted and mad as hell.  I have this great new tool of sturdy metal, that you can sink into the soil about 5 inches and pull up the root.  I t means I crawl around the garden poking and digging bindweed, or perhaps being too impatient for that method, I bend over and grab the cussed thing. Either way it’s a back killer.  You leave the tiniest little scrap of a root and bingo—you got it, a strangling green mess with roots that can be about 8 feet long.  For some reason I can’t stop pulling it up.  I think it’s my control freak, neatnik side. I make time for bindweed pulling every day.

When I learned recently that what I really had to do was disentangle the bind weed roots from the roots of other plants, soak my gloves in something toxic and massage the roots, I said the hell with it. Afterall, by September, at last the garden is full of at least a few plants that are supposed to be there, so I’m now taking the hoe and smacking the bloody bindweed down.  We still have enough zucchini for an army—of what?  Snails? 

Snails—I find them too dreadful to even dream about.  Every green leaf becomes like eyelet with a million holes.  The string beans just flat out disappeared overnight--one day lush and green and the next day a row of stems.  One eradication method is to pick the snails off  “the whatever” individually (yeah, there’s a back breaker), put them in cornmeal and red wine, cook and eat them.  Escargot in a fancy French restaurant snailyes, but my garden snails—never.  Couldn’t eat them on purpose, just couldn’t. Worse even than their attaching themselves to the underside of my gorgeous $5 a piece tomatoes, ruining them from the underside up, is to see them after a rainfall sliding around the backyard leaving their silvery mucous behind them or gumming their way up our windows like they own the place.  Ugh!   So I’ll be out there with the salt shaker as I’ve heard that the one way to cure them from eating the lettuce, collards, chard, squash and tomatoes is to get ‘em salty which causes them to dry out and shrivel. I can be a killer—now that’s scarey! Then the garden smells like guano.  Oh well.  I wonder if dried snails can be good fertilizer. Does anyone know?

Lucy Noyes is co-founder of La Puerta Real Estate Services, LLC, 505-867-3388 outside Albuquerque, New Mexico and has a million stories in her head, just waiting to get out.

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