My granddad Duncan would have been so disappointed in me. That man could grow anything, to the point that calling his a “green” thumb would have been disrespectful to the color green. He could bring up a crop of sweet corn that would feed an army between two small river boulders. He could have planted lettuce on a sheer granite cliff in desert terrain, and harvested enough to keep several hippie communes well fed for a year. The man could grow anything, including a son to whom he passed on his farming prowess.

My dad raises crops of everything from oranges to onions with the type of effort most people put into napping on the front porch. He doesn’t even have to try to grow things — he just puts them in the ground, and because he has planted them, they grow and prosper. He knows all the “smart stuff” about gardening and growing, like soil temperature, and alkaline pH, and the acidity of water tablature, and things like that, and the plants know they’re so outsmarted by him that they dare not fail. The balance of intuition and intelligence amount to intimidation to the plants, I’m pretty sure, so they just grow!

The genetic gardening train stopped before it reached my station, though, because I can’t grow things for the life of me, no matter how hard I try. It’s even worse than it sounds, too, because to say that I cannot grow things well is to somehow imply that I have had any success in gardening whatsoever. Oh, I’ve tried to plant and care for and tend to plants, but it just never works the way I plan at all. I’m more adept at giving living green things a gracious passage into the Great Beyond. I’m a plant Kevorkian. I’m the administrator at a plant-hospice facility.

I am the Anti-Gardener.


It’s not that I haven’t tried. No matter how bad it gets, I will frequently get inspiration, till up some ground, and go to it, but it never accomplishes anything truly worthwhile. It is as though every tool I wield turns into a sickle, every straw hat into a black hood, and instead of reaping, I become the Reaper to them, lovingly sucking the life out of them as though it were my intent. It isn’t, of course, but it just happens. All the genetic potential, all the great advice, and all my good intentions turn into agricultural euthanasia.  How bad is it?

  • My tulips looked okay at first, but never really made it. They were more like… one-and-half-lips.
  • You couldn’t call my roses “roses.” That would assume I ever got them to “rise.” They were more like American Beauty “Just-Lie-Theres.”
  • My daisies were so so pathetic, my kids said they should be viewed except after dark, and called them “nightsies.”
  • Marigolds?  Nice try. More like Maribronzes. Okay, more like “Mari-Also-Rans.”
  • The Gladiolus declined Miracle-Gro, and requested Prozac instead. Sad-ioulus.
  • Even my Hyacinth did their best to overcome my black thumb, but in the end, even they succumbed. Goodbyeacinth.

Oh, there was that one year that things worked out okay. Somehow that particular crop of tomatoes escaped my death-dealing grasp, and provided us with sandwich fodder for a summer, but that was the exception, and nothing else in that garden turned out worthwhile at all. It may be that my reputation somehow eluded those tomatoes, because despite my worst efforts, they had no idea who was raising them, and prospered anyways. You know that kid that got raised by a dysfunctional parent, but turned out pretty well anyways? That was my tomato crop that year. (Wait, now. I just equated gardening to family psychology, and am perhaps beginning to see part of the problem).

Regardless, there are only two crops I seem to be able to bring to fruition on a consistent basis: dandelions and morning glories. I don’t brag on it, and in fact, it’s not intentional by any means. Year by year I wage war on them, but they come back stronger, leading me to believe that nefarious powers are at war against my growing genes.

New plan, then: perhaps I should fertilize the weeds and put Roundup on the Daffodils and cucumbers instead of the other way around. This can’t possibly go wrong!

Can it?


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