It Aint the Garden of Eden

July 30, 2006    By: Kristen J @ 11:58 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

I hated gardening when I was a kid. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s it was really pushed by the church to have a garden so my parents took their gardening duties pretty seriously. They built this HUGE garden box in our backyard and made the family work in it every summer. We spent hours every Saturday morning plucking the bizillions of weeds that seemed to grow there every week. Oh how I cursed that garden!

Ok, in reality it was probably only about a ten by twelve foot box and my parents probably only made us go out to weed when the situation became really desperate, but I hated every minute I had to work out there. I promised myself that as soon as I left my parent’s home my shadow would never again fall upon a garden.

It was a vow made in vain and when my husband and I moved into our first home I tried to turn the tiny, little flower beds into a vegetable garden. The back of our house, where the beds were located, looked out onto a wild hill full of squirrels, gophers, and rabbits. I was a novice garden (remember I was only a weeder in my parents garden) and I didn’t see any problem with sharing my gardening space with cute, little creatures of the wild.

My innocence didn’t last long when everything I attempted to grow became a house salad for Peter Rabbit every night for dinner. How I came to hate those rabbits! My hatred reached its pinnacle when the one little zucchini that I’d managed to grow and nurture all summer fell to a gang of rabbits who claimed my backyard as their turf. The morning I went out to pick my zucchini I only found about one inch of the squash was left and I swear that bunny must have been seriously buck toothed because I could see the tooth marks left in the remains of my precious Italian squash.

You might think that I was courageous and spent the remainder of the summer fighting those furry beasts but in reality after jumping, stomping, and making loud, squawking noises of frustration I marched back into my house, slammed the door and left the backyard to the wild beasts on the hill.

After all of these gardening experiences you would think I would have left the gardening world but for some crazy reason I had the landscapers put in 3 little garden boxes in the corner of my yard when we moved to Arizona. I think it was out of some sense of guilt that any decent Mormon should know how to garden. I managed to completely ignore those boxes for the first 2 summers that we lived in this house.

Not this summer. My little daughter and I decided around the end of April that we would go and put our garden in (my mom was also coming to visit). If you know anything about gardening in Arizona, April is way too late to put in a garden. I had my suspicions at the time and they have since been confirmed. Most of the plants I have grown have yet to produce any fruit but I have managed to grow some cucumbers, zucchinis, hot yellow banana peppers, and a cantaloupe or two. I’m hoping that once it cools down most of the plants I have nursed through the summer will begin to produce and we will be sitting in vegetable city.

Another novice gardening mistake I think I’ve made is planting pumpkins and spaghetti squash together. I think they may have cross-pollinated because all of the squash plants seem to be producing little, yellow, ball-like squash that shrivel up and die about the time they reach the size of a baseball. I’m hoping the shriveling stops when it gets cooler but I’m very disappointed because I really wanted pumpkins. I guess my kids will have to carve spaghetti squash this Halloween.

In spite of it all I’m proud of my crazy garden. You gotta start somewhere, right?

[Associated song: The Beatles – Octopus’s Garden]


  1. Hey at least you have cross-pollinating squash! I have a couple little pots on my porch and have only been able to grow about a 2 inch stem with leaves. It’s pretty sad. My neighbors downstairs are going to give me their pots because their moving so maybe I’ll have some life on my porch again!

    Comment by Jamie J — July 31, 2006 @ 9:22 am

  2. I can see the kids this October: “Yea! We get to carve squash-o-lanterns for family home evening tonight!”

    the one little zucchini that I’d managed to grow and nurture all summer fell to a gang of rabbits who claimed my backyard as their turf.

    Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! Yer funny.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 31, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  3. Well, I’m thinking my kids need a reason to go to therapy as adults. “My mother would never let us carve real pumpkins at halloween. She always made us carve spaghetti squash. I felt like such a nerd!”

    Comment by Kristen J — July 31, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  4. But, can you imagine the faces you could carve in your squash? Weird shapes for sure, great expressions…pumpkins are sooooo Halloween. Next year try something easy like carrots and onions.

    Comment by don — July 31, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  5. Carrots and onions? Sounds good. I’d appreciate any other bits of gardening advice ya’ll might want to impart.

    Comment by Kristen J — July 31, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  6. I would love to be eating spaghetti while carveing spaghetti squash. That would be awesome!

    Comment by Spencer J — July 31, 2006 @ 8:23 pm

  7. Maybe you will have to come over in October and we can all have a spaghetti dinner while carving spaghetti squash. It sounds like the start of a wonderful family tradition, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Kristen J — July 31, 2006 @ 8:40 pm

  8. The seventies were odd (not those seventies), albeit in a very endearing way. I remember sacrament meeting talks where practical instruction was given on how to build grow boxes. We had two 8’x16′ ones, plus a later 16’x16′ plot, and another little one.

    I also remember a whole sacrament meeting talk on whether to repeat the name/title of the Father in the middle of a prayer, particularly public prayers – the speakers feeling was no. And who could forget after school primary, and the tradition of wearing a dress to enter the chapel – primary girls all wore dresses on that day, so they could attend primary in the chapel after school. Sacrament twice every sunday was interesting too, first in Sunday School, and then hours later in sacrament meeting. Or what about fast days in the middle of the week?

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 31, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

  9. I was thinking about the whole sacrament in primary just the other day. I was thinking it was odd that we took it twice on Sundays. I just remember none of my sisters could be in the brownies because of primary during the week.

    Comment by Kristen J — July 31, 2006 @ 11:03 pm

  10. Every year I try to grow tomatoes. I love fresh tomatoes and fresh salsa. This year, it is going to work and I am going to have tons of beautiful tomatoes. See, I do have faith afterall.

    If it wasn’t for Eve and her stinkin’ weeds…

    Comment by Jacob — August 1, 2006 @ 8:25 pm

  11. Ha! Ha! I know that I too will have fresh tomatoes. My tomato plants are huge and I just know that once it cools down they will actually bear fruit. I know it! I just know it! Please…tomato plants…please?

    Comment by Kristen J — August 1, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

  12. Well, Kristen, I have to hand it to you. I have a total black thumb, and everything I try to grow dies. I ‘ve tried to have herb gardens over and over and over, but they hate me.

    For Halloween, since I’ve been overseas, pumpkins can be really hard to find. Last year we drew faces with a Sharpie on mandarin oranges! That is SO pathetic!!

    Comment by meems — August 2, 2006 @ 12:12 am

  13. At least it’s something! That’s great that you’re trying to keep the tradition alive at least in some way.

    I’m just hoping that my plants will soon bear fruit.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 2, 2006 @ 7:24 am

  14. I have similar memories about gardening, and now that I’m older, I wish I had actually learned something! One thing I looked forward to when we moved to this place of nine months winter/three months summer was having fewer months to feel guilty about not gardening. Although I am growing a few things in buckets on our back deck this summer, and they’re doing okay. (It helps to cheat and buy plants instead of seeds, I’ve found, though you feel even guiltier if you somehow manage to kill those or not use them entirely, or something.)

    On the other hand (across from guilt), I love the miracle of things growing, even when I end up ignoring everything and the weeds take over. Then it really seems like a gift!

    Comment by Erin J. — August 2, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  15. You’re not older yet Erin — you’re not I tell you!! :-)

    Sweet new blog you got there, BTW. I was just wondering the other day what you and Jon were up to. Now that you’ve been lured into blogging I can keep tabs on y’all… (Mwahahaha! … Oops, was that out loud?)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 2, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

  16. Don’t worry, Geoff, you’re still young!

    I’m glad you could check out my blog. I’ve had a secret desire to blog for a while now and when Jon found out, he indulged me instead of making fun of me, which was nice of him. It’s hard to resist, kind of like vanity publishing, but a lot cheaper.

    Comment by Erin J. — August 5, 2006 @ 12:07 am

  17. Kristen,

    This week we made fresh salsa with our increasingly bountiful crop of delicious red tomatoes. Of course, I am trying to grow them in Oregon instead of Arizona, so if you get any tomatoes at all it will mean you are twice the gardener I am.

    Comment by Jacob — August 15, 2006 @ 8:49 pm

  18. No tomatoes yet Jacob. I’m hoping that they will come in sept. I did harvest an extremely large and odd shaped canteloupe today. We’re going to have to break it out tomorrow. I hope it’s not too disappointing.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 15, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  19. We lived on an acre (well in a house that was situated on an acre of land) during the 70’s/early 80’s and more than half of the property was garden. We, eight siblings, hated the work and loved the food. By the end of the summer we could eat an entire meal of seven to ten items grown entirely from that garden.
    I truly learned a sense of hard work there. I wouldn’t be the person, or have the things I do today without the lessons and habits learned in that garden. As a family we tend to wax very nostalgic when the subject comes up during reunions and such.
    Don’t get me wrong, we hated the spiders, and the weeds, but loved walking down the ditches in the icy water when it was our watering turn and taking turns riding the tractor during tilling.
    Ahhh, the simpler times.

    Do you remember taking the Sacrament in Junior Sunday School? There was actually a table in the Primary Room once upon a time. And we took the sacrament twice on Sunday. Seems almost sacrilegious now, doesn’t it?

    Happy Harvest to all…head down to the local fruit stand!

    Comment by Mary — September 30, 2007 @ 9:20 pm