The Cranky Gardener

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There's a Reason Why I'm Cranky

Don't you just love spring? Even though it isn't actually spring yet in my part of the world, it is springish. We're in that in-between the seasons time of year where we have a mixture of cold weather and cool weather. In another couple of weeks we will have a mixture of cool weather and warm weather. My daffodils and hyacinths are in bloom, my tulips are up and my peach and nectarine trees are budded.

How could I possibly be cranky with another glorious growing season to look forward to? Easy. Granted it doesn't take much to make me cranky these days seeing as how I'm overworked, underpaid and have just run out of gin. But it's even worse than normal. Mother Nature is making me crazy. And I'm sure the old gal is doing it deliberately.

Take the aforementioned peach and nectarine trees. It's too early for them to bud out. I went outside and had a stern talk with them. I reminded them of what happened year before last when they got all hot to trot in March and got their buds nipped by frost in April. Did they listen to me? Did they say, 'Don't worry, oh cranky one, we'll just go back to sleep for a month,'? They didn't say a blasted thing. The nectarine, which is a year older than the peach and should have some sense by now, smirked and flipped me a bird.

I would have expected antics like that from the peach, who has always been on the flighty side, but was terribly put out when it came from the nectarine. Well, we'll see who's smirking when the temperatures dip below freezing next week. They'll both expect me to stand outside in the cold spraying them with water and lighting smudge pots.

I used to cover them with blankets when they were small. They
liked that. They liked it a lot. Maybe they're trying to recapture their misspent youth when they could bud out any time they pleased and I would ride to the rescue. I know what they're thinking. They think that the thought of a summer without any fresh nectarine shortcake or peach cobbler will cause me to panic and I'll spend the night circling them with my blow dryer. (Did I mention that they like the blow dryer?)

Well, I only have one thing to say to them. Read my lips.
'Farmer's Market.'

Here it is! I thought I had another bottle of Beefeaters. I'm going to fix myself a little drinkie poo and then enjoy my vacation day (that I scheduled so I could work in my garden but can't because it's raining cats and dogs) reading garden catalogues and flyers. I have about a gazillion of themNever mind that every day I spend at work is sunny and
glorious and every single day I'm off is cold and rainy. I'm sure it happens to everyone. The luck of the draw and all that. Mother Nature has better things to do than plot against me. It's coincidence. And you have to take her age into consideration. At her age we'll all be suffering from dementia.

I'm going to sit here and bond with my recliner. Gardening catalogues will soothe my fevered brow. How could mail order catalogues possibly make me cranky? Let's see what's available for hopeful gardeners this year.

'Ye gods! Look at these gorgeous colour photos of rhododendrons. Double ones, no less. Where could we put them?'

I ask my husband enthusiastically while sipping my first G&T.

'Try the brush pile,'

he replies while sipping his second rum
and coke.
'They won't grow here. You know that.'

'But it says they'll grow in Zone 6. And look how beautiful they are,'

I wheedle.

'I don't care what it says, they won't grow here. Have you ever seen them in anyone's garden? Besides, those photos are air brushed. Yours would never look like that if you could grow them. Pass me the peanuts.'

I pass him the peanuts, give him a dirty look and resume browsing.

'Wow! Here's a real bargain. Remember how much I paid for dahlia tubers last spring? I can get a dozen dinner plate dahlias for $4.95. And if I order by April 1st, they'll send me 100 mixed gladiolus bulbs for free. How could we pass up a deal like that?'

'You're wasting your money,'

he says as he collects my glass and heads for the kitchen to make me a second G&T and himself a third rum and coke.
'Remember what happened the last time you fell for a great deal?'

he snorted.
'They'll be too small to bloom. Then you'll forget where you planted them and leave them in the ground over winter and they'll freeze.'

'How do you know they'll be too small to bloom?'

I was starting to wish he'd go outside in the rain and leave me alone.

'Tell me one time when you ever bought bargain plants or bulbs from a catalogue and had any of them live? Just once? Go ahead, I'll wait.'

He dodged the can of smoked almonds I threw at his head.

I decided I was better off with vegetables. He's a big veggie fan. That should put him in a better mood. Although the rum was definitely brightening his spirits.

'Why don't you throw a frozen pizza in the oven while you're waiting?'

I ask sweetly.

'You remember the oven? It's that thing underneath the cook top that you never go near.'

I could hear him snort.
'I don't want pizza.'

'What do you want, then?'

'I want you, my little tomato,'

he laughed.

I rolled my eyes and returned to my catalogues.

'Speaking of tomatoes, look at this. This variety will grow up to 20 feet tall and one plant will produce 4 bushels of tomatoes. It shows a woman on a ladder picking them! That's a hell of a tomato.'

'Give me that.'

He snatched the catalogue out of my hand. I was astonished since I knew he wouldn't want to order any tomato plants. He turned the pages until he came to the gadget section.

'Here's what we need,'

he said.

I was finishing my third G&T and was prepared to listen.

'A mole eradicator. You push it into the ground and it vibrates. It's guaranteed to drive the moles crazy. And it's only $29.95.'

'Pass me the potato chips.'

Garlicky Meatball Skillet


  • 1 pound - 450g - lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup -1½oz, 45g - cracker crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small package -10oz, 275g - frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1 can - 15oz, 425g - small white potatoes, drained and quartered
  • 1 can - 14½oz, 400g - stewed tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Mix the beef, egg, cracker crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper and form into small meatballs. Brown the meatballs in a nonstick skillet. Add the vegetables and garlic. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

The Cranky Gardener


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