Gardening Challenges That Have Become Fulfilling

| November 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

Delicious tomatoes are the result of Barb Strona’s gardening efforts.

Most of my column’s readers know I have never been a fan of gardening. This stems from my childhood. I loathed sitting at the dinner table, bored to tears, while my parents discussed crab grass and dichondra or bonsai or orchids, depending on which parent had the floor. I still cannot comprehend how they could occupy the entire meal with such uninteresting topics. However, if my parents are in heaven, they are getting the last laugh. Somehow the battle between gardening and me has been won, almost. Somehow the Mission Hills Garden Club has pushed me to the other side. I not only no longer hate gardening, I actually like it, a little. It is a win for the Garden Club.

I have always enjoyed re-organizing. Thanks to an enormous and dangerous eucalyptus tree, I have lots to organize. The tree is threatening our foundation, tearing up the concrete stairs and retaining walls, and rendering the sidewalk a real hazard. What is a constant annoyance is that it sheds all day, every day – bark, leaves, and in the early fall, seeds. Walking barefoot on the seeds is much like walking on the little matchbook cars that kids never pick up from the floor.

My gardening “re-organizing” is sweeping up the seeds and removing the leaves and bark from both hardscape and flowerbeds. The blower does NOT work; it just blows dirt and debris around. The result is that at 78 years old, I am on my hands and knees picking up piles of leaves from beneath the plants. I carry an empty box that held kitty litter or a large, empty plastic pot in which I deposit my piles of leaves. These then are placed in the greens recycle bin. This means several times I have to get off the ground, not an easy task. I have filled two bins in two long afternoons.

I try to wear gloves because my hands have ground in dirt both under the nails (I have very deep nail beds) and in the wrinkles of my hands. I prefer being bare handed.

By the way, yellow or any color leather gardening gloves are to be avoided. I had bright yellow hands and nails after planting, watering, and doing whatever chores in beautiful yellow leather gardening gloves. My hands and nails looked as if my liver had failed. It does NOT wash or scrub off. . . Borax, polish remover, bleach. . . nothing worked. I found a pile of cotton and rubber gardening gloves that do not stain my hands and aren’t too awful, but I have to remember to wear them.

I don’t need gloves to sweep, however. Sweeping eucalyptus seeds is like shoveling your driveway in a snow storm. This was a winter chore when I was a child. My parents had parties, and the way to the front door involved walking up a VERY long driveway. Who better to keep the path clear. As much as I love snow, I do not love to shovel and re-shovel. . . not just a path but the entire width and length. Someone might want to park on it.

As I explained last month, I did replace most of the emitters and one manifold of our “drip” system. Guests arrived last night. When we awakened we learned that the upstairs (above the guest room) balcony’s drip system had spontaneously turned on at four in the morning. The poor guests had to gather towels and trash cans, and move the bed to finish the night.

We thought we had fixed the leak by clearing the drain, but perhaps after 30 years, the balcony needs to be re-waterproofed. I have perhaps 30 pots of flowers, herbs and vegetables (tomatoes and lettuce) sitting on the balcony. At least six or seven of those pots are extremely heavy. Not something to look forward to.

On the plus side, my gardens are thriving with all the water, and I am finally giving tomatoes away. I do feed the tomatoes every week or ten days because I love the taste. We both eat many tomatoes. This year the plants paid for themselves.

The drip system, sadly, does not seem to be helping our water bill. Having a dried up and dying garden did lower our bill. I am not sure what the solution is. I will cut the length of time they receive water as there is over-flow in some stations. I hope my plants do not have to suffer; they are now like my children and cats. The leaky deck must be addressed. Maybe this latest water crisis is a sign that I should give up gardening. I would miss it. Damn!

From 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, November 14 the Mission Hills Garden Club will host a Holiday Floral Design session with David Root and the Holiday Potluck. Each person attending should bring a small, savory appetizer or a dessert. The meeting place has been changed to the Church at 4070 Jackdaw Street. If you haven’t renewed your membership, please do so now.


Category: Education, Life Style, Local News

About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.