Reader 76 Shovel commented that I may have inherited my mom’s green thumb. Not quite as magical as hers, but I am cursed with the damned color digit.
My dad, as good European from the mountains, decided to have our patio shaded with grapevines. He had built a metal and wire frame that took all our back porch and about half one side of the house and planted three grape vines in strategic locations. This was when I was all of 6 years old and even relished the idea of maybe having fresh grapes picked directly from the fine.
Fast forward a decade.
Three crappy looking vines have managed to creep all the way up and spread some through the wires, but only after dad spending money on “experts” and even grafting the darned things to get is the big juicy wine grapes of which we had ONE harvest and the squat. Basically after 10 years and Lord Knows how much spent, not even half the wire grid was covered , I’d say about 70 square meters (753 sq f according to Google), maybe less, I am measuring from memory here.
One year when I am 17, it is time to prune the vines which was a chore my dad enjoyed. He would drag the ladder, climb up with the pruning shears and sped all day measuring knots and sprouts and cut in the places experts determined. The prune had to be done during New Moon so the gravitational pull would help the plant sprout faster and stronger (Don’t ask me) and you end up with a nice harvest.
Dad was unusually sick as a dog on the day that the vines HAD to be pruned. He tried to climb the ladder, but almost fell on his ass and mom dragged him back to bed with him complaining all the way. She calls me over and orders me to prune the crappy thing lest dad did it himself and broke his neck in the process. Threats were issued and, as usual, she won. I put on a straw hat, a buttoned up long sleeve shirt, a bandana covering my face and I proceeded to murder-prune the vines.
If you are wondering about the wardrobe, I saved the reason IO hated the vines for last: It was a stink bug magnet. Two or three times during the year, you could barely stand the stench in the patio because of the concentrating of the little &%$@ peeing/squirting all over including your body walking under the plants.
But the stink bugs never really all left. There were always several hiding even after I sprayed the effing thing regularly with insecticide (I was not allowed to use paraquat) so I knew going up and trimming will force me to face down this evil creatures… and I did while learning the importance of eye protection the hard way. That shit HURTS! Bring on the Ray Bans.
Earlier I called what I did to the grapevines murder prune because I did not follow the expert’s protocol but went fully Genghis Khan on it while pretending I was doing it right. My idea was to do such a piss poor job that the damned plants would die. Mom had a fit when she saw the end result. Dad just about had me removed from the house by cops. What was left was a post mortem skeleton of what once was three grapevines. I was secretly smiling.
Man Plans, God Laughs.
Two months later and for the first time in over a decade, every single square inch of the vine grid is covered with luscious branches full of gorgeous leaves finally providing the shade my dad had been wanting for over a decade. And you could see all over the tiny grape bunches starting to develop in quantities we had never seen outside the vineyards in Spain. When t was over, we had so many grapes, we gave a lot of them away to fellow European neighbors who all proceeded to make (and fail) homemade wine. Huge silky purple grapes all over the place! People congratulated my dad into finally conquering the stubborn vegetation and he dutifully placed the due laurels on my head. I was the rescuer of his adored plants.
I was not amused.
Guess who was socked with the duty of pruning the effing thing after that? Yup. And it only help confirm I had a “good hand” for taking care of it because every time I pruned, no matter how criminally , the plants would develop beautifully
It took me going to college in the States to have that sentence removed. And just to be sure, I got married and moved to our own house. Dad continued to play with them till he died and after that, nobody gave too much of a care for the vines, but they still remained strong. For all I know, they are still running stinkbugs and making somebody’s life miserable.
So yes, I am cursed with a green thumb. I only used for growing herbs for the kitchen.
And the orchid.