Editor’s Note: July is sagging to a close. Hot, hot, hot. How is your garden growing? It’s the time when personal lethargy meets the growth spurt of weeds! Here’s another poem from my friend Charles Goodrich, who knows more about gardening that anyone I could name.
This one is a prose poem, very like a journal entry. I love the vigorous language he uses, don’t you?
Damn. The squashes have crossed again. This one is supposed to be an acorn squash, but it looks like a billy club with warts. How far apart do I have to keep these plants? Some vegetables have no shame. And look at this: tell-tale spots on the tomato leaves. Under my pocket magnifier, pretty yellow rings with dead tissue in the center. Necrosis, caused by who knows what—a virus, a fungus, a mutant pathogen. Probably infectious. Better rip up the whole lot before it spreads to the peppers. Listen, you’ve got to be tough to grow vegetables. Tough, smart, and a little bit mean. Because plants are headstrong and narcissistic, prey to all the sins of the flesh. They’ll strangle each other when you aren’t looking. Make no mistake—in the quest for food, beauty, and truth, a lot of creatures are going to get hurt.
1. While sitting in front of a fan with a glass of something cold right beside you, write a paragraph about ruthless gardening. What would you dig out, pull out, cut out, or whack down if you were fearless and guilt free in the garden?
2. Take a walk around your yard early in the morning or in the evening when the day is cooler. Take note of how mother nature has kept going even in drought, heat, flood, etc. Take an especially good look in an area you don’t usually tend very much (under a bush or in a far corner of the yard). What is happening there?