Can my garden grow?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Southern Yankee – Sue Ellen Ross

This is the first year I will have a garden in Louisiana. In fact, it will be the first year I have ever had a garden of my own, period.

Many years ago, my parents had a small patch of land in our backyard with a few flowers and vegetable plants, but I wasn’t involved in it.

When my children were small, they and their Dad had a garden area behind the garage, but I wasn’t involved in that one either.

Neighbors, friends and acquaintances all boasted of their bounties each year. But I wasn’t jealous. I would see them every Saturday morning working in the heat, as they pulled weeds and constantly watered their plants, and would laugh as I headed to the Indiana Dunes to go swimming.

Northerners revere springtime as the best time of the year. Renewal in every form is there to enjoy – Easter season, flowers blooming and those wonderful days you can go outside without a heavy coat, hat and gloves.

Coming out of winter in Indiana is like coming out of a cave you have been living in since you ate the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. You can’t imagine the feeling of exhilaration when you walk out the door and can take a breath of fresh air, something you haven’t been able to do for at least three months!

That’s a long time to be cold.

I digress, so I’ll get back to the subject at hand.

I guess the reason I never got involved with the planting thing was that any indoor plants I purchased (or were given) never ever, grew. I didn’t even have to touch them – they just died.

I tried everything. I bought those white sticks that had plant food inside, added the correct type potting soil (the one with all the nutrients that plants needed,) I put them in the light, watered them daily and they still didn’t want to stay alive.

So I gave up on planting anything.

Until this year.

I am so crazy about palm trees that I thought this would be the first thing I would plant when I moved to LaPlace. But I decided to go slow, and try a patch of garden instead.

After all, with the prices of those beautiful trees, I would be out quite a bit of money if the one I chose didn’t survive. A few vegetable and flower plants seems to be the way to go.

I have been talking with green-thumbers from all walks of life recently – from my neighbors to the professional landscapers. One thing they all agree on – make sure you are dedicated to making your garden grow. Time, patience, cash and good work gloves are included in that dedication, they added.

I am determined to have a blooming garden this summer, and formal plans are in the making.

I staked out a small area near the fence in my backyard this weekend and will ask my boyfriend to ‘turn the soil.’ I don’t know what that means, but the pros told me that is the first step in preparing your growing area.

Although I have a chain link fence surrounding the yard, I’m sure some critters still find their way in. There are squirrel families that live in a nearby tree, and I always see them scurrying around, looking for food.

One of my neighbors told me to plant marigold flowers around the border of my plants. She said squirrels don’t like the smell or taste of those flowers, so they may think that’s all that is in there. And they will leave them alone.

Another friend told me to line the edges of the garden with aspirin. Put them about 1/4 inch into the soil and water lightly, were her directions. That makes no sense to me, but she added some comments that were similar to the marigold advice.

One of my relatives also told me to plant a plastic religious figure or plaque with an inspirational saying right in the middle of my garden. This will help everything grow, she added.

I guess these suggestions can’t hurt. I may just try them, but will also take all advice with a grain of salt.

Now there’s another idea. I wonder if squirrels like salt?