I know summer is around the corner when Gump starts shopping for ‘maters….British readers, that’s Oklahoma speak for tomatoes. Gump’s obsession for the plump red balls is only matched by his passion for :-
Turtles (not the edible ones)
Every year, we scour the shops (if he hasn’t already planted seeds) for a variety of ‘maters which most civilized countries have never heard of. Cherokee Purples, Black Krim’s, Lemon Boys, Arkansas Travelers to name but a few, all which sound more like street gangs than food. It’s a treasure hunt for Gump, and I go along for the ride so I can sneak a few flowers through the checkout.
After the heady excitement of purchasing the plants, the ritual of planting begins, and it is laborious. When I plant my flowers, I weed the soil, dig a hole and bob’s your uncle. But Gump….it’s like a religious experience for him, a tradition carried down through many generations…..the current one actually….
- The soil is lovingly tilled
- The soil is fertilized
- Perfect holes are made at equal distances apart and in neat rows
- Plants are gently placed in tidy holes
- Ground egg shells – which I have carefully washed and ground up for him – are placed around the stalk to administer calcium, (though technically it actually takes one year for the stuff to break down)
- The ‘maters are watered with care
- Ironite is put around the plants as our soil is deficient where we live
- A cage is placed over the plant (in case they try to make a run for it)
- Homage is paid
Gump’s a happy camper once it’s all done. Well he used to be until he realized we had another crop growing in the back yard…..moles.
You know, I thought I had squirrel issues, but trust me, this guy needs serious counseling.
The little blighters are all over the place – we trip over the mounds of soil that weren’t there one minute, which become a foot obstacle the next. Gump even stood guard over a ‘hole’ and saw the face of one of the blighters, he was visibly shaken when he came into the house needing a strong glass of tea……
Frantically he consulted our gardening guru Father Google for any remedies he could find. Gump even researched what he could put under the actual garden soil as a barrier to stop them from chewing his ‘mater roots. All to no avail. Unless he wanted to invest enough money in the project which would increase his costs per ‘mater to $20.00 instead of the $5.00 per ‘mater they already cost to produce……
In desperation, Gump consulted an expert at a garden festival in town. I watched him gesticulate with the guy for at least five minutes. But he walked away downhearted. The expert told him nothing would work to get rid of the moles. His only option was to put something in their holes which would make them surface, and then to ‘spear the little bastards’.
This brought on an emotional crisis – Gump is not a killer of things (other than my idea to renew our wedding vows) – he actually picks up any living creature (spider, beetle,grass snake) in Debtwood (our house), and places it outside (pity he doesn’t do the same with his muddy boots) the odds of him spearing a mole are about the same as him listening to a Justin Timberlake album. It will never happen.
So now the garden has become an area of Border Patrol – fortunately, there is no wall yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I came home one day and found one. I don’t know what he plans to do if he sees an illegal mole try and make a dig for the ‘maters?
Speaking of critters, Harvey (our resident turtle) has emerged once again having survived his first year in our yard. I reported on the blog about how our Harv was traumatized by Gump’s relocation service, when he ‘rescued’ (kidnapped) the poor bugger from the office car park in the escape convertible. Well Harvey made it through the winter and he is back.
Gump was giddy with pleasure when he saw him, which also lends to the counseling suggestion earlier. But when I discovered our Harv wasn’t single anymore, that he had a girlfriend hanging around his den, Gump almost became airborne. He checks on them every day, leaving store-bought ‘maters out for them to nibble – I think he’s an anti-moler – feeding the turtles and starving the moles – Seems a little prejudiced if you ask me.
Every year when I clean out the beds ready for my flowers, there are always a variety of trees starting to shoot out of the ground. We have quite a lot of trees in our yard, which was one of the reasons we bought the place, it looks pretty. What I didn’t know, was Gump carries a lot of emotional baggage, dating back to the many times he picked drilling locations for wells, and watched as the ground was cleared (translation – tree removal) for the drilling rigs.
This has manifested into an unhealthy phobia never to cut/trim/remove/look at in a funny way – any living tree. He was completely mortified as I plucked out the shoots from my flowerbeds and tossed them to one side. He made a bee-line for them, scooped them up to safety, and took them to the brand- new area of his ‘mater & pepper garden – the ‘tree nursery’ (groan)
The tree nursery was created two weeks ago. It was a normal day… I was busy mowing, and happened to look up to see Gump hopping on the grass in the Karate Kid pose. Thinking he had finally grasped a River-dance move, I attempted to drive the mower over to his location to see what was wrong – this only provoked wild arm waves and crazy eyes until I stopped and got off the mower. He was ecstatic! A couple of his Japanese Maple trees had sprouted babies all over the lawn, and he felt personally responsible for their lives .
Gump meticulously dug each baby out of the ground (see image below) and carefully potted them. His plan is to plant them all in the nursery (created for them) when they are strong enough. Then he will plant them everywhere in our yard, eventually having them take over the entire world as we know it.
As if the obsession with trees and ‘maters isn’t enough, there is also the mission of finding the correct type of lotion for dry skin. It’s funny, because looking at Gump you’d never pick him for a smooth skin kinda guy, but he loathes having dry skin. He’s pretty fastidious about using lotion after a shower, which is probably why he looks ten years younger than me – I can barely find the time to bathe, never mind slap on the lotion – I digress…I have purchased all manner of lotions to appease his quest for the Holy Grail of creams – and he is an expert on them all. Hell, Gump could have his own spot on the Shopping Channel and give Cindy Crawford a run for her money.
I discovered an inexpensive coconut lotion which he hailed as amazing, and we have gone through about twenty jars of it over the past few months. It is pretty good. But then Youtube happened.
In between watching videos on tomato growing tips, and ‘how to get rid of pesky moles’, Gump somehow found a video on How to make your own moisturizing body lotion.
He researched where to buy lavender oil and bought some, and then he went to Sam’s and bought a huge jar of coconut oil used in cooking, and frozen shrimp, hopefully they will not be used together – and now he has what he needs to make his own skin cream.
As of this moment, between tree-relocation, turtle worship and mole-spotting, it hasn’t happened yet (cringe), but I have been informed he will need to use my food mixer and I am very nervous.
I have expressed my concern that his new lotion may cause his skin to clog up as it is meant for cooking use, not personal use, and he might find a lot of dogs wanting to lick him, or put him in a fruity drink, but Gump insists that it will be ‘just fine’ – I’ll report the results on the next blog, if I still have a kitchen.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am heading to a writer’s conference where I intend to masquerade as a writer. This elicits as much pleasure for me, as Gump gets from his ‘maters. I will become immersed in other odd-bods like myself, who love to ramble on about the written word. I shall emerge with a better attitude, and a strong desire to publish. Gump will enjoy my absence, he will stick his face in his iPad and watch countless videos on tomatoes, moles, and lotion, but I guess that’s better than being a perv and surfing the net for icky stuff right?
I hope everyone in Oklahoma (and surrounding areas) escaped unscathed from yesterday’s eventful weather. Got to love mother Nature right?
And… a big thank you to everyone who has been reading the blog – I have had in excess of 700 ‘hits’ from those of you reading just from the Linked In link -this is amazing, and most helpful in my quest to find an agent – the larger the audience, the more they will be fooled into thinking I can write…also, any likes and comments are MUCHO appreciated – when I sell my film rights to book #1, I’m taking you all on holiday!
Happy planting to you gardeners out there.
Jude – tree plucker and Gump victim