I always thought of myself as someone who picks up and drops hobbies. Someone who gets interested in this shiny new thing, and then lets it fall by the wayside. Writing doesn’t count, because I can’t actively recall a time when I didn’t write (though I know such times had to have occurred). Then sewing proved me wrong. I sew. I am a stitcherer. Yes, you read that correctly: stitcherer.
Recently, I’ve realized that I have other hobbies that have lurked around me for years, masquerading as mere practicalities. Hobbies that require of me back-breaking labor, extreme discipline, and a great deal of skill. Well, one hobby. Gardening. Edible gardening, to be precise. Because if you’d like to press the issue, I’d like to tell you in detail where you can stick your snot-nosed hybrid tea roses. If I can’t eat it, I won’t grow it. You’d be surprised at what you can eat, though.
Now, you might think that having such a hobby for as many years as I have would have granted me a least a modicum of knowledge on how to do very basic things. You can see where this is going. So I just want to show you a photograph of my most recent achievement in fuck-uppery:
If you’ll notice, there are two side to side rows which lack all growth. You can follow them from left to right and see that no little seedlings are poking their sweet heads out of the soil. Why is this? Well, I used old seed. Those seeds are dead. I killed them from improper storage over a period of two to three years. They were supposed to be jalapeño and cayenne peppers. That’s the first thing.
The second thing… do you see that white fuzziness? And the green splotches clinging to the egg carton? I know you know what that is. I didn’t use sterile materials, thus mold. So whatever would have germinated despite being old seed was likely killed instead by damping-off. Damping off, I have learned, is kind of a catch-all term for various fungal infections of seedlings which cause them to die off or just fail to get started. I watched a few of the heirloom tomatoes in that flat fail to shake off their seed casings and their little stems withered and die.
There only seems to be one plant I can grow without foolish hitches and stupid mistakes cutting into my yields: okra. And who the hell likes okra? What kind of crazy would grow such a thing? It’s slimy and seed-filled, and what on earth do you put it in? Fortunately, I know the answers to these questions, and they are quite simple: me; me; and gumbo, a deep fryer, a pickling jar, the crockpot, some bizarre iterations of a succotash, and my stomach.