Thumb confessions

My cousin Connie posted about  planting kabocha and herbs in her garden in Japan.

I posted back, as a comment, my entire gardening history:

Hi Connie. I’ve forgotten what kabocha is and I’m too lazy to walk into the next room for my Japanese-English dictionary. (Besides, other readers may not know either. Maybe you mentioned in a previous post but I’m too lazy to check them.)

The only thing I ever planted was some tulip bulbs my mother gave me years ago. I had a 50-50 chance of planting them rightside-up. I chose wrong. It took all the energy the poor little things had to break out of the seeds, make a U-turn and fight their way up to the surface.

When my son was born my mother-in-law gave me an African violet. I watered it occasionally but when it started looking puny I was so nervous about the responsibility of raising a life, I stuck it on the floor of the hall closet and closed the door. . . Thank God I did a little better with the baby.

A potted spider plant once thrived over my kitchen sink for a long time but I put it outside when we were fumigating–at the same time that our landlady, who shared our back yard, took on the job of baby-sitting a St. Bernard puppy that had been given to her daughter and son-in-law (or vice versa) as a wedding present. For some reason they didn’t want to take it on their honeymoon.

The “puppy” made short and enthusiastic shrift of my plant and when the landlady offered to replace it I said, “That’s okay.” (“That’s okay” was my default way of handling everything until well into adulthood, when I learned how to say, “That’s NOT okay” or, in cases like this, “Yes, please!”)

Our current neighbors have an avocado tree with huge, thin-skinned avocados, the best I’ve ever tasted. They gave us two and we saved the seeds (pits?). They said their son grew the tree from a seed suspended with toothpicks in a glass of water, for a science project.

I missed all that school science stuff. Our family was sailing around the world and deprived me of (spared me) formal schooling. So this was a first for me. We suspended one of the seeds in a glass of water with toothpicks over the kitchen sink and waited.

Now there are stringy things hanging down in the water AND a sprouty thing reaching for the sky. It’s actually “doing what comes naturally.” I haven’t killed it yet!

I’m thrilled in a terrified, wary sort of way. I think I’m supposed to do something important with it at this stage but I don’t know how–when? where? how deep? Do I need to mulch (whatever that is)?  Or rototill? Maybe the sprout will communicate that information to me telepathically: “Feed me!” “Plant me!” I glance at it out of the corner of my eye when it’s not looking.

Our friend Dave, who has a Master’s in horticulture and works at a local nursery, said you can’t do it that way. Something about jabbing the seed with toothpicks causing trauma. (Well, I’m sure I wouldn’t want someone doing that to me!) We gave Dave the other seed and he planted it in his yard for us. Just in case.


About Jessica Renshaw
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3 Responses to Thumb confessions

  1. Diane Lowell says:

    If you still have the pit that is in the water, change the water now and then. It needs light too. If it does have a stem and some leaves, you can plant it outside.with the help of your friend or give me a call. I like to grow sweet potatoes (organic) in jars of water. The foliage is beautiful. Love to all, Diane

  2. Jessica says:

    Thank you, Diane! Well, I did one thing right–I’ve changed the water once or twice. (Should I have used regular tap or filtered? Does it matter?) Do I dig a little hole? A big hole? Do I loosen a lot of dirt around it first? Do I bury it to the top of the pit? Do I pat the dirt around it firmly? I think with leaves showing I can tell the bottom from the top now and will get it rightside-up! You’re welcome to come over and help. I’ll pay you back in avocados when they appear–several years from now, I’ve been told.

  3. Diane Lowell says:

    yes, my dear, i think i had better come over! hope you don’t mind my e-mail writing style! (we can pick the avocados together when we are eighty, so don’t trim the lower branches!)

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