It’s spring. It’s the time of rejuvenation, renewal, and regrowth. For me in my new apartment and it’s large backyard, it’s a time to play in the earth. Though I did manage to plant several bulb flowers soon after I moved in October, I’ve been itching all winter to finally get some real dirt under my fingernails. I’m actually still waiting. Waiting for night-time temperatures to rise and stay above 50°F at least, for I am after all a child of the tropics, and tropical plants make me smile the most. If I owned this home, there would be a tropical paradise out there in the backyard – at least as close as I can approximate here in the temperate Northeast.
|Tulips with the occasional hyacinth, 2014|
When I shared photos of my spring flowers and the few cool weather crops that I did manage to plant early in the spring the comments bordered on surprise, or dare I say ridicule. No, I do not consider myself a gardener. I wouldn’t necessarily say gardening is a hobby, though at this rate, you never know what the future holds. No, I’m not a green thumb, but I’m far from a black thumb. I just really love to see life in action and plants are after all living things
I may be new to gardening in the hobby sense, but I’m not new to digging up soil nor planting. No, I dug up soil as a little girl in Germany thinking that I was on an archaeological and geological dig simultaneously; that if I dug deep enough, I could stumble upon medieval coins or prehistoric bones. Of course, I never could dig deep enough. At one other time, we learnt about the medieval construction method of “wattle and daub” in school and for sure, I attempted to make my own mini-house out in the yard with dug up mud, again unsuccessfully.
I didn’t plant until my pre-teen years when we were living in Ghana. There with the chickens clucking and strutting all around the compound not knowing that they were about to be dinner, with all sorts of trees (mango, indian almond, cocoa, banana) brimming with fruit at a stone’s throw or at an arm’s reach away everything was just so organic and alive.
I think it started with the bean. In my General Science class in Junior Secondary School (JSS), the bean was the prototypical seed studied. We needed to know (and be able to draw and label) the different parts of the bean and it’s little seedling after germination. It was then that I learnt that in each seed is already an embryonic plant. So I went home and “stole” a bean from the kitchen. I put it in a plastic soap box in which I had placed a water-soaked cotton ball and left it on the second floor balcony of our home (“the old house” in Cantonments). I was delighted when in just days it sprouted. I had no use for the bean though but the wonders of life had caught my interest. The next seed sprouted in a similar manner was the groundnut (the peanut for you Americans), and then an orange seed. But of course, a soggy cotton ball does not provide the necessary nutrition for a plant to grow. Thus, I appropriated a small plot of land next to the cocoa tree and planted my groundnuts in …well, the ground. Next to it went an orange seed and next to that a mango seed.
|Inspecting “my” mango tree in 2007|
Well won’t you know it. The groundnuts multiplied and yielded a beautifully delicious harvest. As for the orange and mango seedlings, when we moved to “the new house” in Teshie-Nungua they came along and remain firmly planted there, at least as of 2007 when I last visited. Unfortunately, when we left Ghana in 1993, neither tree bore fruits, and when I visited a few years back, the mangoes on the tree were still green so I’ve never tasted its fruit. But I did have an orange from my tree, and boy was it the most bitter orange I have ever eaten! I guess I was too busy with my science experiment to think of the quality of my seed. Or perhaps, the soil was not the best for of course, I did do an excavation in that yard and the “soil” if I may call it that, was clay just several centimeters below. Seriously, I could have sculpted pottery with it. I don’t believe I planted anything else in the remainder of those three years in Ghana. But my parents had planted banana (fruit much better than the Chiquita/Dole versions I had been used to and that made me claim a dislike for the banana), coconut, pawpaw, soursop, a different mango variety, sea almond, corn (the most delicious ever) and several fragrant flowering trees in our garden…which were more than enough for me to monitor.
So there you have it. Plants and I have had a very long history.