The Great Plotnik

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Garden of Zucornotash

...and then there's the garden. Plotnik didn't know about gardens until he moved to the Big Shmapple and didn't have one. He grew up with a back yard that was a liability because his Mom made him pull up crabgrass on his hands and knees with a garden fork. In college he lived in cottages with beautiful gardens to which he paid no attention. In Nashville there might have been a garden but his landlord was insane and it was hard to concentrate on nature, or anything else, with the landlord's wife screaming all the time for Jesus to save her, followed by the sound of breaking glassware.

Then Plot moved to The Big Shmapple where his friend Uncle Bob lived in an apartment in the West Village with one scrub tree in the back, surrounded by four apartment blocks. The tree was gasping for light and breath like everyone else -- it was a skinny, pathetic weed, but it was tall. And green. All the neighbors came out to sit on their rear fire escapes to enjoy that one tree.

But not long after Plotnik met Ducknik, they bought their 12 1/2 acres in Shmensylvania. The whole world became a garden. That's where Plot caught the bug and he has never lost it. You've all heard the stories.

Like the zucchini? Plotnik and Ducknik have a barn but no animals, and a neighbor has a pony but no barn. So the neighbor keeps his pony in Plotnik's barn, and that sounds so smarmy but we're talking about a real horse here. The pony produces prodigious amounts of what ponies produce. Plotnik is reading Rodale's Organic Gardening paperback.

So he brings a wheelbarrow to the barn and hauls off ten zillion pounds of horse poop and pitchforks it into piles a foot high and a foot wide, on both sides of his twenty foot row of zucchini plants in the large truck garden he and Duck have planted. Nobody has mentioned that when you put that much horse poop in one place it gets incredibly hot and can spontaneously combust.

Then Plot and Duck drive back to the Big Shmapple and don't return to the farm for three weeks.

When they return the manure is gone, there is a burnt patch three feet wide on both sides of the zucchini patch, the fence posts are singed and the plants in those outside rows are scorched and dead.

He also has mega-zucchini three feet long and six inches wide, with large, green smiles on their jubilant faces and enormous orange blossoms ready to produce nonstop until November. It's July.

Plotnik hates zucchini to this day. He cannot look at zucchini. Don't nobody give the boy no goddam zucchini bread.

Anyway -- the garden was a revelation, and the orchard, and fields of hay where ring-necked pheasants nested and does tried desperately to hide their lovely, spindly fawns. Apples dropped from 50 year old trees in November and perfumed the grass. Corn? Corn! Real sweet corn, picked five minutes from consuming. How can Plotnik convey to anyone how much he misses those days?

Now, a large garden full of flowers and plants that enjoy fog have to suffice, and they do. But Plottie must add 'a garden' to yesterday's post about living here and not there. He remembers Dance-Nik's lovely place in Potrero Hill, because it was nestled in the trees. He thinks her current apartment in the West Village is as cool as you can hope for, but -- no garden.

Plot doesn't think he wants to live without some sort of garden anymore, though he's gotten pretty good at growing things in containers, like mold and dead twigs and, occasionally, some pretty damned good tomatoes and basil.

That big skinny thing is a curry leaf plant. Yesterday Plotnik planted epazote. It ain't corn. You give something and you get something. You live here or you live there and either way life gives you both corn and zucchini and that's why God invented Zucornotash.


At 12:01 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

Beautiful ~ love your garden and your garden memories.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger notthatlucas said...

I didn't realize you were so anti-zucchini. I need to file this bit of info away. Love the story about the pony-poop.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Hysterical fertilizer story--a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Fortunately here in the West Village there is a fab garden right across 6th Ave - behind the Jefferson Market clock tower. Maybe it's been closed during your visits--it's open only half the year. I make it a point to visit at least once a weekend. That and the farmer's market.


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