Found in a garden | Front Porch | Indy Week

Columns » Front Porch

Found in a garden



"We're not planting the corn and the beans 'til I get some fish heads," announced my wife with a wry grin.

I was not surprised. That's how we plant.

One day our brown and gray garden area looks barren and forgotten, passed over and tired. Twenty-four hours later, it's the definition of nurturing and life itself, all moist, green and promising.

If the Rototiller starts on the first or second pull, we're off to the furrows. All gardeners know this. Once you get started it's hard to stop. The fevered communion goes until fall's first frost.

Once the rows and beds are fluffed up and ready, we start negotiating plants. Myself, I've had it with corn. Our rows always blow over in July during those freaky late afternoon wind gusts. But that doesn't stop the glossy seed catalog fantasies, does it?

A deep trench of fish heads six inches below the corn is an old Native American tradition. We know it works, just takes a lot of planning and effort. I'm more of a push-it-in-hole, tamp-it-down and move on kind of guy.

This year my favorite plants are—no shocker here—tomatoes: half a dozen varieties. I'm out there babying them two or three times a day, tucking their vines over the cage rails, mulching and watering, talking to them like they were newborns on the preemie ward.

Our cats always follow us out to the garden. It's an oasis for them, safe from the dogs, soft leaf mulch beds everywhere they look. Like all cats, they think it's all there for them. They'll rub against a corn stalk purring and push aside a green pepper to get to the trickle of water dripping next to the plant.

With neighborhood sightings of copperheads and previous visits from curious deer, I'm all for the dogs and cats patrolling the perimeter. Our garden fence looks like an homage to San Francisco, with colorful twine and purple strings of beads waving six feet off the ground. We've had no deer inside the garden since I strung several rows of shiny, glittery plastic shapes that wave in the breeze around the fence posts. Half a dozen cheap solar lights randomly dotting the beds make quite an evening effect.

All the wonderful compost, all the wonderful llama poop from my sister, all the funky new seed varieties of colorful peppers and giant pumpkins won't mean a thing if the pollinating bees and water gods don't cooperate. Nature depends on such choreography and synthesis. Everything truly is part of the whole.

So will the poor bees get it together and find their ways to and fro? Will the drought dry up our wells? We'll all stay tuned.

At dawn, the leaves of the frisky mound plants, the squash, cukes, melons and pumpkins, are covered in dew. Their stems and vines are firm, stretching, reaching for more turf, running laterally until the sun bakes them still. By day's end, it's droop-city, siestaville in the garden. Those water-lovers have had it, they are exhausted.

We all sleep, dreaming of hopeful sounds.

You and me and rain on the roof.

Add a comment