'Annabelle' Hydrangea

'Annabelle' Hydrangea

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Watermelon Blues

(Photo) Moon and Stars Watermelon is an old favorite.


I probably officially started gardening at age 2. That's when my parents separated and my mother and I moved in with her parents. I was their only grandchild together. Well, you can imagine how that turned out for me--pretty good! My first memory of growing something on my own was maybe about 4 or 5 years old. My granddaddy would put me up to these schemes to play pranks on my grandmother. They usually backfired on us both though:

One season my grandmother decided to grow watermelon. I didn't believe that they would really grow in our garden. They seemed too perfect of a fruit--so sweet and juicy--they had to come from some other place.


In order to get me not to eat seeds my grandfather told me a horrible story.

Once, he caught me eating seeds while I was eating an orange. I was a very inquisitive child so I asked why I could eat the orange and the white stuff but not the seeds. He led me to believe that an orange tree would grow out of my mouth. Well, I knew that wasn't true. I had eaten plently of seeds of all kinds that he didn't know about. However, he convinced me that soon I would have enough fertilizer and water in my stomach and those seeds would start to germinate down there and an orange tree would start grow straight up through my stomach, into my throat, and out of my mouth.

After hearing that, I didn't eat seeds of any kind. To this day I still pick them out of most all of my fruit. That "lesson" gave me my first training in growing plants. They need water and fertilizer. So when my grandmother planted those little watermelon plants I knew exactly what they needed, or so I thought.

After informing my granddad that I knew how to grow those watermelons he suggested that I should grow my very own.

He held a watermelon growing contest between my grandmother and me. She only had a week's start on my plants and I was undaunted. Oh, to have the confident naivety of a 5 year old again!

The weeks went by and the plants were growing beautifully. I had put the proper amount of lime in the soil (according to granddad). I watered in the mornings, and once a week I was allowed to give them some Miracle Gro. I was even given my very own watering pail.

Then one morning the plants had some real live growin sho nuff watermelons on them! I was so happy and I asked granddad if there was something to be done to beat Mama's plants.

Wait for it...

He said, "Well, if you want to have the biggest, sweetest watermelon then you need to give them sugar water."

Oh, what a novel idea! That was it! Of course, they will eat up the sugar just like they eat the fertilizer from your stomach if you eat the seeds.

Sigh...I remember that whipping like it was yesterday. It was the day that my grandmother finally solved The Great Disappearing Sugar Incident. A 5-pound bad of sugar supposedly lasted in my grandmother's kitchen for at least a month, but that summer she had to buy sugar each week.

Now remember these were folks who didn't buy new seed each year. They grew what they harvested from the last season's crops, so buying sugar so often was breaking a pattern--and the budget. I got caught redhanded filling my watering pail with the sugar from the bowl on the kitchen table. You were punished first then asked questions later. It was then she learned why I had been stealing her sugar and who had put me up to it.

I don't remember an apology afterward. I do remember both my granddad and I nursing our bruised egos on the front porch.

It was these experiences that shaped where I am in life today in many ways. The most profound being how to respect nature and be a good steward of what God has given you. The most productive is knowing how to grow things. I learned that as a 5 year old.

(A lot of) Years later, I keep learning more and more about gardening.

What I do know is that it's simple! Gardening only takes patience from us, nature does the rest.

So, while my friend should share her stories about dating after 40, I should share mine about gardening simply...