Talk 11 – Garden

fiction about gardening

Short Story

Do you have access to the back garden from your apartment?
Yes, it’s the only reason I rented it. The garden is mine.
I can see it from my window.
Do you grow flowers?
No. Vegetables only and two orchards. Let’s go out there, it’s a good day.
I read somewhere that the soil in the yards of old buildings is soaked in very bad chemicals.
That’s true, and that’s why I had all the soil removed. I bought three tons of organic soils and replaced it.
That is some dedication.
My ex husband did it for one of my birthdays. He knew I wanted a garden.
The gypsy?
Yes.
That apple tree looks so neat. Is it necessary to cut its branches like that?
I believe it is. Raising a child is like planting an apple tree. Do you know anything about orchards? You have to prune their branches so only the few remain and they bear healthy large fruit. Otherwise they grow wild with many small branches and tiny oddly shaped fruits. My parents didn’t cut any branches and I grew wild. But I was clever enough to learn to cut my own branches and now I am fine.
Too bad you don’t have children. They would turn out like the bear. Good and proper.
You do remind me of my mom.
Let me guess. There is a photo on the wall at your parents’ house of you as a baby sucking your foot.
How did you know that!?
Intelligent parents can appreciate the abstraction in that.
It makes me smile every time I see it.
Good.
My parents only complain that I am too far and don’t visit often enough.
It hurts when you can’t keep your family around. They are another kind. I don’t know their type of pain personally. But my ex-mother-in-law felt similarly. She threw potion on me while I was visiting and sleeping in our tent, but most of it got on my husband.
I guess it worked.
It didn’t help us. He went back to riding the wind.
Riding the wind; it’s the most nautical thing in the world.
Nautical?
I mean beautiful.
I see you have potatoes.
Yes potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, carrots.
Peppers.
Yes, I have peppers.
Are those spicy?
No, those are sweet for roasting that I usually add to salads. The spicy ones are in the corner – the last two roots.
The small ones?
Yes.
They’re tiny.
But full of poison.
How do you mean?
That’s what spice is essentially; poison, and enough of it can kill you.
Like whiskey?
Just like whiskey. Sit, help yourself to an evening cigarette.
I like this box. Organic tobacco.
One is allowed. An old gypsy habit.
Which is the most difficult vegetable to look after?
That’s a relative question. When they are young they are all fragile. Later, all they need is water. As long as the soil is fertile.
How do you keep it fertile?
Every fall a get two hundred pounds of cow manure delivered from a farm a few hours away from here. Last fall when I was filling the ground with it I dug up a bottle or brandy with a note on it that said – you can always count on me.
Gypsy humor?
It’s beyond humor, it’s wisdom.
Where do you get your seeds?
I buy them. Just because it is too much work to collect them and it gets messy. Except the potatoes. To plant potatoes you just plant potatoes. So I save the small ones for the spring. You can even cut up larger ones and plant the pieces.
How often do you water them?
At first, you water them as soon as the soil dries up. Later twice a week. That goes for most of my veggies. If the summer is hot, three times.
For the rest you plant the seeds the same way?
No, they are too gentle and usually bugs eat half of them.
You have to plant them in pots inside and keep them warm in the early cooler days of spring. When they grow shoots and roots you care for them until they grow leaves and then you select the strongest and replant them outside.
That’s about all of them.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
How about cilantro?
You plant the seeds outside. They interlock like grass and form a carpet of roots. You cut it and it grows again so you have them fresh the whole season.
Where do the seeds come from?
Late summer you leave their plants to grow large and flower. The flowers pop with seeds.
Let’s go back upstairs before she tells us about the carrots, too.
Don’t be rude squirrels!
Don’t call me that!
He is right, I am boring you with my old lady talk.
No, it’s been wonderful. How much for the panting?
Two hundred.
I only have one twenty on me. I will send eighty over with your neighbor, this fine gentlemen here. Is that good?
That is fine.
And before you ask, you plant the carrots straight outside, you squirrels!

 

next chapter: TALK 12 – CIRCLES

previous chapter: TALK 10 – FLOWERS

all chapters: TALK

more by PETER ODEON

photograph by Neslihan Gunaydin

 

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