Mom on the Run: Green thumbs

Warm days mean my garden, which has been in a forlorn state of disrepair all winter, is starting to perk up. And with it, my yearning for new seeds.

We’ve taken to planting a small vegetable garden amongst the roses, zinnias, daisies and other flowers. This year, I have great plans for green beans, tomatoes and squash.

For the first time in what feels like a million years, I’m also starting far enough ahead to plant seeds instead of young plants.

It’s intimidating, somewhat, starting a whole new life form from scratch. Looking at that tiny seed and imagining the fat, juicy tomatoes, the succulent squash and the tender beans that I hope to coax from it — it’s enough to boggle the mind.

How quickly and simply nature works to renew herself every spring, with just a little help from us.

Of course, it’s difficult not to go overboard with the planning and the planting. Left to my own devices, I’d probably have cucumbers climbing the gutters.

It’s left to my poor husband to remind me that while we do live somewhat in the country, our small suburban lot is not the acreage I grew up on in north Louisiana and there is absolutely no reason to invest in a plow. Also, because he knows he’ll get stuck with a lot of the heavy lifting, he has ample incentive to remind me early and often.

Another reason to keep my Garden of Eden in check is that neither of us are gardening gurus. I can grow some things, and even rescue some plants from the brink, but I can’t tell you what variety of tomato works best in which conditions, which bean is better or how to build the right trellis for cucumbers.

The trellis I built last year, for the record, collapsed under the weight of the cucumber plants.

Because I can’t bring myself to kill a thriving plant, the cucumbers then grew through the debris into very odd shapes. There will be no cucumbers this year; my pickles will come from farmers market cucumbers. It’s for the best.

Mostly, when it comes to gardening, I’m lucky. Of course, my child doesn’t know that, and she thinks I can magically make tomatoes and flowers spring from the earth. I think that’s a myth I’ll foster for as long as I can.

Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at bcolvin@theadvocate.com.