Re: [gardeners] Dante's Inferno

penny x stamm (
Mon, 29 Jun 1998 21:00:31 -0400

Well, Bambi, many years ago we envisioned creating an ideal
back yard for the children (5 of 'em) to learn what nature and
growing were all about. We planted a dwarf bartlett pear, an apricot,
a peach, a bing & a black tartarian cherry, and a 5-in-1 apple tree, 
plus of course, the raspberry patch we had brought with us from 
the grandpa's yard, and even 6 blueberry bushes of 3 varieties! 
We also put in seedless concord grapes and corn, and some tiny 
Alsacian strawberries ....  oh yes, an espalied apple from the 
famous Leuthardt. 

But for sure and positive, we did not know what we were doing. 
And we never opened a book to see.  

So the Good Lord saw to it that my daughter ran over the black
tartarian cherry tree with the lawn tractor. Right on and up the trunk
of the tree. First and last time she was ever on the blasted thing. 

We didn't know from sprays way back then, so any apples that
managed to survive into adulthood were worm ridden. Never got 
a one. In fact, only two of the branches ever had blossoms!

You know what happened to the corn, bless the black heart of
my neighbor's )&*%#%@$ baby sitter...

The raspberries caught a fungus, so the entire crop failed. So
did the 2nd crop that year. So did all the crops the following year. 
The plants would survive, but they always got sick!  The overhead
watering did not suit them. 

The blueberries were not placed in a sunny location -- who knew
about location...? And even worse, the soil wasn't acid. The
bushes developed cankers instead of blueberries. All 6 of 'em.

The grapes grew luxuriantly, and I would carefully prune them back 
to the two-tiered Kniffen branching each spring, but nary a bunch of 
grapes would grow. There were a handful of undeveloped grapes 
hiding here and there, but never at all did we get grapes to harvest!  
Must have been too much nitrogen, so all the strength went into leaf

The espaliered apple tree...? Ah, it was so pretty in the spring! I 
could just envision all those little nooks and crannies growing an
apple in a few weeks... I would judiciously prune away the 
unnecessary wood, leaving the skeleton of the espalier. Only in
my naivete, I must have been pruning away all the fruiting parts, 
and leaving the vegetative parts behind. I even made a trip back up 
to the nursery, for a lesson in proper pruning -- but then I must 
have returned home and done the same darned wrong cutting all 
over again. 

But the coup-de-grace was the dwarf bartlett pear, my pride and joy.
We were told 'don't fertilize, or you'll get fire blight!' so we just
around it and watched it grow 3 inches a year. And then one summer,
oh joy! oh bliss! we got blossoms and then tiny pears! NINETEEN of 
them, would you believe it...? I can't tell you how often I counted them
I must have sat a month long vigil just watching them grow.  And one
day I arrived home from the market and discovered that there were no
longer -- yes, no longer any pears on the tree. No pears on the tree?
[squeak!]  A mad dash thru the house and I found my #3 and held on
to the door frame to keep control.. "My pears..? The pears.. know
anything about them...?"  "Uh, oh yes, my friend Tommy and I were
measuring them this afternoon."  "Measuring them? How do you 
measure pears?" I whispered. "Uh, you take one in your left hand, 
and then you take one in your right hand, and you just _measure_
them to tell their weight!"  "YOU WHAT....????  and just what did 
you do with them?" "Oh, we threw them over the wall afterwards, 
'cause we didn't know what else to do with them! We couldn't hang 'em
back up.." 

I grabbed #3 by the hand and dragged her without a word down the 
street to Tommy's house, and banged on the door like there might
be no tomorrow. His mother answered -- mind you , she was deaf.
I kid you not, the lady was deaf. But I screamed quite out of control, 
and carried on like a lunatic -- about how she was should teach her
child not to destroy other people's property (had I taught mine...?)
and finally stormed back home. 

You know without being told what happened next: out came the
dwarf bartlett tree, the apricot, the peach, the blueberry bushes --
all six -- the grape vine, and that damned espaliered apple
tree which never grew a single fruit on it. Out, out, out! 
What I couldn't dig up, I lopped off.   

My children learned first hand what nature and growing were
all about. Don't muck about with Mom. She won't punish you --
but she'll make you wish she had. It might have been less

Sigh ...

Penny, NY 

You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
Get completely free e-mail from Juno at
Or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]