Reaping the benefits of the garden

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Kay had been laid up with a bronchial infection. She ignored it until Saturday and then went to the doctor for some medication.
“You’ll feel a difference by Wednesday, and the cough may last a lot longer than that, but the infection will be gone,” said her GP. “Rest lots; don’t do much gardening; stay out of the sun and drink lots of liquid.”

She left the doctor’s office, exiting to a brittle light and promptly protected her eyes with a good pair of sunglasses. The weather was magnificent: four days in a row with high heat and clear magnesium blue skies.

Early in the evening as the sun’s rays were dancing long shadows on the lawn, Kay took pity on her poor, ignored flower beds and her neophyte vegetable garden.  They hadn’t been watered through this daunting heat wave and it was time to give them a soaking.

She set up a soaker hose in the front yard along the north fence-line. In the back, she set one up along the western fence where the potatoes, garlic and strawberries were sharing accommodations.

The  pots grouped around the small herb garden were on the Saharan scale of aridity.  Kay filled ten gallon pail with water then doled it into the various large pots filled with geraniums, lobelia, petunias recently planted and all crying out for a drink of water.

In this same spot, she had collected a nursery of transplanted shrubs, a few lilies, Japanese Iris, some winter jasmine, two small Japanese maple saplings and several other pots containing lone vegetables that she was trying to germinate to adolescence by keeping them out of the way of wandering slugs, snails and voracious garden pests.

She was only beginning at this home food production and didn’t know what would grow well in the local soil.  Kay checked the radishes that were now up far enough to have two roundish leaves each, albeit going a bit yellow from lack of water. She had planted them at the foot of the seedling Maple since it had been the only denizen of  a 16 inch pot and the soil was deep and richly fertilized.

She admired the two lettuces in another of these big pots, a butter lettuce and a red curly-leafed one, that she had purchase ready-grown to a height of three inches. After a month’s nurturing, they were up another inch and both lacked leaves in the center where she had pinched out a few leaves for a sandwich one day. Radishes were showing first leaves in this pot too.

With this darned bronchial infection, she had not been very interested in food. Nothing seems to have any taste.  Kay had come  into the garden as a distraction from her vague dinner preparations. She had decided on a plain Angus hamburger patty because she hadn’t eaten meat in day, but for the rest, nothing else seemed palatable to accompany it.

Now she watered the lettuces. They looked stalwart, healthy and crisp. The idea of a few leaves of this with chives and the chive flowers might just be the right, light accompaniment to the meat,balancing her meal with token vegetables. After all, what was the use of a garden, if you didn’t eat the produce it yielded? She picked a half dozen leaves.

Kay pulled off six or seven small fluffy chive flowers and stems plus a sprig of  fresh thyme. All she had to do was add a dash of dill dressing and she would not have any kitchen work to do.

Clutching this bit of salad in her hand, she finished her watering then went back into the kitchen filled with purpose now that her meal was decided.

It’s incredible how in simply watering and encouraging plants, one’s hands can get so dirty.  She placed her salad fixings on the counter and scrubbed the soil from her hands. There was a mixing bowl in the sink and she filled it with fresh water, dunking the lettuce and chives in it, swishing them around to get any dirt or little bugs off of them. While it soaked,   the meat sizzled in the small fry pan.

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Kay had a new pottery serving bowl and she collected her dinner into it, proceeding to the living room to eat whilst a bit of television entertained her. It was a perfect dinner – was just enough to satisfy and no more.

When the program finished some twenty minutes later, Kay picked up the bowl from the floor where it lay. A small piece of lettuce was stuck to the rim of the bowl and she picked at it, to finish it off rather than let it slide down the drain.

It was no leaf! It stuck, glued to the edge. It was a baby slug, clinging for dear life to the darkest part of the glazed decoration!

“Ew! Yuck!”  said Mr. Stepford, when she recounted her tale hours later. “… but it’s just another piece of protein.”

“I couldn’t have eaten one, ” replied Kay, belying the worry that had assailed her since her distasteful discovery. “I would have tasted it…. but my dinner was just fine.”
“Ew!”  said Mrs Stepford. ” How did you feel?”

“” I’m still feel slightly nauseous.  I’m glad I didn’t discover it while I was eating. I’ve been thinking about it all evening. Gardening,” she laughed,”  is not for the faint of heart.”

BTW, if you can help Kay identify the potter, creator of the beautiful bowl pictured above, please do. It’s made in B.C. ; it’s got this signature with Scott marked on the bottom, but I’d like to know more.

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5 Responses to “Reaping the benefits of the garden”

  1. wrjones Says:

    Lovely bowl, good narative. My last garden was nothing more than a pasture for slugs and snails. They would mow the radishes to the ground.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hey Bill,
    It’s a wonder anything grows what with renegade grass growing in the wrong places, slugs, snails and aphids chomping their way through tender shoots before the plants can ever get to childhood; with morning glory better known as bindweed, strangling everything; mallow or buttercup invading and doing a soil take-over. It’s a dangerous world in the land of plants.
    Constant vigilance. That’s what it needs. Constant vigilance. If you want a garden you might have to give up painting and patrol under the leaves for Ground trooper Slug and Sergeant Snail.

  3. swatch Says:

    Hi K
    There’s nothing like a veggies from the garden hey? And some cultures make slugs (well snails anyway) a delicacy. The bowl is a real work of art . There is is potter out there who loves what he does (assuming Scott is a he).

    Do you have olive oil to drip on your salads?

    I hope you have recovered from the infection and are taking lots of vitamin C, garlic and zinc – and are resting.

  4. swatch Says:

    By the way – the pot in your picture would make a great watercolour with the leaves and the complementary patterns of the dark stems, the shadows on the pot and the darks in the background

  5. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hi Swatch,
    I thought the pot with shadows would make a marvelous chalk pastel. I suppose it would do well in watercolour as well. I’m finding good subjects, just having a bit of a time getting motivated to actually do the painting.
    Yes, I’ve been dosing up on Vitamin C and zinc.
    And I’m back to normal, almost. Thanks for the concern.

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