THE VEGIE GARDEN
“I’m going to start a vegie garden,” She suddenly announced one Sunday morning last spring.
]I was in the middle of the cryptic crossword. I always attempt the one from the weekend papers and this one was proving to be very vexing. So, without looking up, I said, “Yes dear. That would be nice.”
I was still struggling with 9 across, ‘A consumer of workers, 8 letters,’ when I became aware of a furious banging on the back sliding glass door. She was waving Her arms about and looking excited and so reluctantly I put the paper aside and went out.
“I have found the perfect spot,” She announced. “You won’t have to move many plants at all, and I have worked out how to build the beds around the trees.”
Three hours, and three cups of tea later I had managed, with my usual skill in such matters, to persuade Her that mature azaleas do not transplant very well and that terracing a vegie garden down a steep slope was not such a good idea.
I was in the car on the way to the hardware store before I started to have the feeling that I had somehow been outmanoeuvred again. The position and structure of the vegie garden was now all my idea. Or was it?
I arrived back home, very late for lunch, with a rather large visa card bill and an order form for timber, galvanised nails, two tonne of garden soil and all the pieces needed for a drip irrigation system.
Enquiring as to what was for lunch I was told, “You know I don’t do lunches.” So after a snack of unappetising sweet corn eaten straight out of the tin I was just getting into the crossword again when the doorbell rang. Yes you guessed it. It was the delivery from the hardware store.
Having supervised the unloading I again retired to the lounge and my crossword.
“There are still three hours of light left so why don’t you start on my vegie garden,” She said as She went off to put a colour in Her hair.
Three days later the garden beds were finished and two tonne of soil wheelbarrowed from the front lawn and put in place. I had just finished my shower and was looking at 9 across again when She announced, “If we hurry we can get to the nursery before they close and choose my vegies.”
It was very dark and rather cold by the time I had unloaded the last of the tubs of ten different types of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and endives from the car. Does anyone know what an endive is?
It took me a whole day to do the planting to Her satisfaction. I only had to rearrange the Cos lettuce plants three times. She could not actually help, as it was Her book club that night and it is, ‘so hard to get your nails clean after digging in the soil’.
Water restrictions were introduced a week later so we could not use the watering system, and as the watering can was too heavy for Her I found myself with a new afternoon chore.
Three weeks later, I was again settling down with the weekend crossword when there was a scream from down near the vegie garden. Snails had attacked in force. Of course they had good taste and had laid waste Her Cos lettuce.
Straight up to the hardware for yours truly, for the latest in anti snail warfare.
One week later it was the attack of the birds. It appears that they love green cherry tomatoes.
Up to the hardware again for more timber and wire netting. This time She insisted on coming with me, and spent nearly an hour choosing miniature garden implements. The type with little decorative wooden handles and a plaque where you can engrave your name. They hang in the garage, undisturbed, where I was instructed to put them, beside Her new gardening gloves, and above the decorative watering can.
Exactly one week later, yes you are right again, Sunday morning, a rather large thunderstorm passed over. No it did not rain. It was hail, only small but lots of it. I thought She was going to make Herself sick with worry about how Her vegies were faring. So down with the crossword, up with the umbrella. When I returned with the good news that her vegies were OK I was told to stop whinging as I was only wet from the waist down.
This time the hardware salesman greeted me by name and gratefully accepted my visa card in payment for more timber and ten meters of hail proof shade cloth.
Then came the big day. Friends came up from Sydney for Sunday lunch and the first of the produce from the veggie garden was presented as the centrepiece on the table. A tossed salad of ten types of lettuce, endives and cherry tomatoes.
“They are all from my vegie garden,” She said as we all helped ourselves.
She graciously accepted their praise and murmured, “It was no trouble really. I am actually going to try carrots and spinach as well next year. You know you can save so much money by growing your own vegetables.”
I tried the endives. They were as bitter as hell!!