It’s All Julia Rachel Barrett’s Fault

There are two things I have tried and tried over my lifetime, that I have proved over and over again that I am no damned good at. No matter how I apply myself, and even though every once in a while I have small successes, in the end, the best I can hope for is… mediocre.

Those two things are gardening and cooking.

The cooking part is easily explained. I have a lousy sense of smell and thus a poor palate, plus I’m allergic and/or sensitive to many yummy foods. So while I can follow a recipe, true mastery of the culinary art is forever beyond me. (Which, by the way, does not prevent me from idolizing Gordon Ramsay, and learning from him)

There is neither reason nor excuse for my black gardening thumb. I come from a line of people who can stick pencils in sand and grow palm trees. I can see what others do, I can follow directions, but the ability to grow a garden eludes me. And pray for any poor houseplant who makes it way through my doors. Its days are numbered and it will, without a doubt, meet some sort of gruesome end.

Julia Rachel Barrett, on the other hand, is both an excellent cook AND a gardener.  Don’t believe me? Look here and here and here and here.  And if you want a good laugh, look here. I won’t post a bunch of links to her articles about cooking, but you can follow her blog for some yumilicious ideas.

Am I jealous? No! Okay a little bit. Mostly I am inspired.

And so today, after watching the extended weather forecast closely, because this is Colorado where sunny, 80 degree days are often followed by three feet of snow days, I decided to make attempt #1,732 at growing something in my garden plot.

First I had to find gloves. In the garage. The old man’s domain. I love the guy, have put up with him for 30+ years, but he is … untidy. (okay, that wasn’t the word I was looking for, but this is a family blog). 48 pairs of gloves and none of them match, but I found some with heavy leather pads so I could clear out the pine straw and pine cones and prickly weeds. (Remember the allergies? I can’t touch many green things.) Then I dumped in some fresh soil and worked it in with a spade.

All I planted were a pair of artemsias, a Russian sage (started from seed in Colorado, so should be tough enough) and a kalachoe. I know, I know, kalachoe is a houseplant. My daughter-in-law gave it to me for Mom’s Day, and the poor thing faced torture and death inside my house, so I figured it would have a much better chance outside. Pray for it.

I also replanted my rocks. I do pretty good with rocks. I’ve only killed six or seven, while the rest seem to thrive.

My Favorite Rock

My Favorite Rock

I don’t know what that rock is, but it about 8 inches in diameter and weighs about ten pounds, twice as heavy as what you’d expect. I pretend it is a meteorite and has traveled the Universe.

The Deadly Glass Cactus

The Deadly Glass Cactus

Long ago, somebody decide a glass cactus was a good gift idea. It’s not. It collects dust and I can’t count how many times it’s drawn blood when I’ve touched it. So outside it goes to protect the drusy quartz and antique iron birdbath.

The Dam.

The Dam.

I have never been able to find a hose that fits right on this spigot. They all dribble and spray. So I built a dam of nifty rocks (the two in the back are covered in fossilized sea shells) so water doesn’t dig holes or drown the artemsia.


The Russian Sage--Long May it Live and Prosper.

The Russian Sage–Long May it Live and Prosper.

Russian sage grows well in Colorado. You see it everywhere. Drought resistant, doesn’t seem to mind the abuse of insane weather shifts, and when it’s full grown, it’s beautiful and smells great. It’ll bring the bees and hummingbirds. I don’t think deer like the taste. Big plus. Notice the rotting pot? I am enchanted by decay. I love to watch things slowly return to the soil and find the process quite beautiful. It seems like the perfect perch for my little pot of pretty stones.

I am so inspired by how nice it looks, I want to do some more. When I run to pick up dog food, I’ll find some flowering annuals and stick them in. The deer will probably get them, but they’ll be nice while they last.

See, Julia? I can garden, too!


12 responses

  1. Looks really nice! I have some Russian sage too. Never dies. I like that brick patio. Now see? You have something I don’t have – a brick patio! I better figure out how to build one!
    You can format and do stuff on the computer. I can grow stuff and cook stuff, but I’m useless on a computer. How I envy you!

    1. Our mutual envy society! Right now I am lusting after strawberry and blueberry plants. I have no where to put them. Put them in front and the deer will get them. In back, and my dogs will. That makes me very sad.

  2. You’re still perfect in my eyes Missy, and I can relate to this I kill everything in the garden eventually

    1. Thank you, Tom. Every time someone gives me a houseplant, I want to cry. The gift-givers have such high hopes for me and I know disappointment lurks just around the corner.

  3. “Enchanted by decay.” That explains the fascination with zombies.

    In high school, I worked at a gardening nursery. Second worst job ever (the worst was detasselling, but that’s another saga for another time). That any of the plants I watered survived the night remains a miracle to this day.

    One of the nice things about the time I spent in Arizona was the gravel front yards and bare dirt back yards. Alas, weeds are weeds the world over; they seem to thrive on air and sun alone.

    1. A fellow corn detassler! OMG. I thought most of them died from heat prostration and crooked backs! I am sure there are worse jobs in the world–sewer cleaner, maybe–but it sure killed any notions I had about manual labor.

      Weeds and rocks, only things that don’t curl up and die on me.

      1. The worst part of detasseling was yanking out tassels covered with aphids! The pay was pretty good (to my then-fourteen-year-old sensibilities), but walking the rows was entirely monotonous. I don’t think they detassel any more, for some reason. Maybe they still do in hybridizing seed fields.

        The month I detasseled must certainly have been about 80 days long, with 48-hour days. Ugh!

      2. Hey you two— I detassled corn and hoed soybeans every summer from the age of 13 on. I loved the job with a passion!

      3. Yeah, the aphids were pretty gross and sticky, but still I loved it! I suspect now it’s all managed chemically or mechanically.

  4. I suppose there would have to be ONE person in the world who finds the charm in corn detassling. You are it, Julia. 😀 What I remember is bending over the rail (we were on a tall trailer that passed over the rows) grab and pull, grab and pull, row after row after row after row.

    Of course I found out I was allergic to corn pollen. Four days in, my eyes swelled shut and I had trouble breathing. So that was the end of my making big bucks in the corn fields that summer.

    1. We walked the rows. It was hot, sticky, luscious work. Saw snakes, foxes, rabbits, deer, mice, possums. Loved every single corn detassling minute.

      1. We walked as well. We did get to ride one day, but the drivers ran over too many stalks, as I recall, so that was the end of that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: