Day 153: Talk to a plant for at least one hour.Posted: June 2, 2011
I can’t talk for an hour under any circumstances without notes and a fair amount of preparation, and then I can only talk for about twenty-five before the “space madness” kicks in. Talking off-the-cuff to a fucking plant for a fucking hour was out of the question.
I did talk to a plant today, though; several plants, actually: nine tomato plants, four basil plants, a pepper plant of some sort, and a half-dozen squash plants — my garden, which is small, and so far not particularly fruitful, although we came home from our trip to Baltimore to find lots of little green tomatoes and little yellow squashlets, so we might be eating things from it soon.
I don’t have a green thumb. It’s not that I kill any plant life I interact with — although I do kill some of it, usually on purpose, and with a chainsaw when possible — I’m just supremely indifferent to most of it.
I’ve never really been clear on the distinction between good grass and bad grass, or between bad grass and weeds, and why it matters. I have no idea what the grass in my yard is, or whether its “grass” or “weeds” – it’s all green, and it all looks about the same when I mow it (which is not as often as my neighbors would like, probably). I certainly don’t ever water my yard: I’m not going to coddle groundcover that can’t handle heat and drought when there are groundcovers that can, and that will do the job without my having to do anything about it. It all does the same thing — covers the ground — and I want the job done with as little help from me as possible.
The problem is that I take the same approach to my garden; I shouldn’t, because I actually want something from these plants (I don’t want to hurt them, I just want to eat them), but I mostly ignore them anyway. Sure, I’ll water them, probably not as often as I should, and pull up the weeds occasionally, but I don’t love them, and so I get fairly meager fruit from them.
Several of the squash plants in my garden are transplants from my friend Caleb’s garden — he plants from seed, like a real man, and so had more plants than he needed, and brought some to me — and his plants, the ones in his garden, produced large-enough-to-be-edible squash a week ago, while the plants I adopted from him are only now starting to think about making squash.
He talks to his plants, though.
That’s not all he does, of course: he’s a better and more knowledgeable gardener in general, but one of the things that makes him better is that he talks to his plants. When I was planting the squash he brought me, he told them to be good and not embarrass him. It was the last thing anyone said to them.
Until today, that is. I spent twenty or thirty minutes this morning weeding the garden, checking the plants, adjusting how they were growing in the cages, watering — and I talked to the plants the whole time. I told them a little about our trip, but mostly we talked about the weather, because weather is important to plants. I asked how they’d been, but didn’t get an answer, or at least not one I could understand as an answer. I’m going to talk to them on a regular basis, I think — twice a day would probably be good, but once a day is probably more likely to be the case. I might also actually remember to water them regularly, if I’m talking to them — although it’s not like I’ll notice if they tell me they’re thirsty, because I don’t speak plant.
They’re probably all going to die on me anyway. Damned plants.