the colour of summer

What does summer mean to you? Warmth? Hotels? Beaches? Travel?

To Guyanese, summer is known as “August holidays”.  Regardless of what it’s called, it’s when weeks stretch languidly into each other, the vacation all children dream of.  That feeling of what summer embodies starts in childhood and perhaps it never leaves us.  It’s the time to explore ideas and to dream – and to bring those dreams to life.

Last summer, I grew a garden for the first time in my life.  Before I go on, let me explain.  Most of my family are not just good at gardening; they’re great at it.  Fruits, flowers, vegetables.  My parents, both my siblings, and my niece – not just their thumbs but their entire bodies are green. Like Shrek ‘green’. 

Me?  I kill plants. I get them, kill them, drive them to my dad and he patiently nurses them back to life.  And so it goes. Yet, I’ve always wanted to be able to step outside and pick things for a pot or salad. But for reasons I just explained, it’s a practice I’ve avoided.

In late March of Covid-year, I planted seeds.  (There wasn’t a lot going on so I thought, why not?!)

I used empty salad boxes to start the seeds. (Great way to repurpose plastic. Plus, these can be reused year after year.) It’s 1-2-3 easy.  Drill holes in the bottom. Fill them with dirt. Plant the seeds.

By early May, my seedlings were ready for bigger pots. (They need to have at least 4-5 leaves before being transplanted.)

Side note: I planted arugula, spinach and lettuce directly into my planter since they can’t be transplanted.

Over the summer, I learnt a lot about gardening. Probably basic stuff to most, but not to me.
I called my mom all the time to ask her questions, and she taught me a lot of things along the way.

Lesson # 1

Me: Mom, what do I do? Squirrels are destroying my garden.
Mom:  Buy some tulle and cover all the plants with it.  Animals are afraid of getting their claws stuck in it, so they’ll leave your plants alone.

She was right!  Tulle – a gardener’s best friend.

Lesson #2

Me: Why aren’t my tomato plants giving blossoms?
Mom: Pick off some of the leaves.  The plant is giving its nutrients to the leaves and there’s none left for the flowers. Then, mix some Epsom salts into water – not too much salt or you’ll burn the roots – and water them once every 2 weeks with it.

(Guess what? It worked)

Assistant Leaf Picker – hired to pick unwanted tomato leaves

Most importantly, Mom’s Lesson #3 was how to “marry” butternut squash blossoms (“assisted pollination”) so they could produce squash. (My sister calls it Blossom Sex.  But that’s a story for another day.)

‘Blossom sex’ –> tiny butternut at the end of the blossom
Lesson # 4 – Plants are very supportive of each other. They reach out to help a friend who might be struggling. (It’s really about the little things.)

In the end, I harvested green onions, peppers shallots, tomatoes, butternut squash (tiny, but so sweet!), cucumbers, lettuce, spinach and arugula. 

Other side note: Arugula (rocket) is literally the easiest thing in the world to grow and can be harvested all summer long. 

Greens, reds and oranges galore.

For me, Covid-summer will forever be the colour of a tiny veggie garden.

So, what dreams will you bring to life this summer, and what colour will your summer be?

8 Comments Add yours

  1. lujuanwang0853234 says:

    That’s amazing! You did it! I think it’s the warmest thing in the COVID-19 summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nano says:

    Oh I love love love this post. You turned yourself green.❤️❤️🐛🐞🌱🌱🌱🌱Also, Adam’s a gardner too

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ausiya Baksh Mohamed says:

    Ahhh! This was a very sweet piece. Congratulations on your delicious, colorful garden. Don’t forget about your nephew gardener too. Now you can add yourself to the list of gardeners.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisi-Tana says:

      You’re right. I did think of my nephew but I hadn’t seen any photos lately of his produce. I wasn’t sure he was still planting.


  4. Amna Mohamed says:

    This is the best blog I’ve read all COVID year.
    It’s so colorful and fresh and fecund. 🤣
    A site where everything grows and people enjoy growing them.
    So many things to learn and best of all, experience. You watch the earth giving you food.

    You omitted Adam who but for school would have had his garden thriving too.
    My mother used to say, “ Treat the earth with love and it will reward you.
    I enjoyed reading this.
    I hope you will continue staying close to the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisi-Tana says:

      Aww..thank you! I hope that I can also stay close to the earth. It was a really wonderful experience for me. I got a lot of help from my mom though. She’s an expert.


  5. Hessaun says:

    What a wonderful delicious post , and how vibrant your veggies look ..

    I too have been born sans green thumb .

    Sigh , unlike my dad .

    Daddy only had to look at a coconut tree , or thyme , or an orchid , or anything .. and just like Jack’s beanstalk , it grew and grew to gargantuan proportions . We had a whitey ( this is most definitely the Guyanese name , please don’t ask me what the scientific name could possibly be ) that was so HUGE, I called it Gargantua, secretly .

    Didn’t want to offend Dad or the tree .

    Anyway , I ramble .

    I’ve never been successful at growing anything but I yearn for beautiful breathing gorgeous plants in my home .

    I bought a few ferns last year , and tended to them the way I tend to my cats ..

    Sadly enthusiasm is not enough to keep ferns alive .

    I watched the leaves turn brown , and wilt and eventually die .

    I returned to the plant store in defeat .

    A kind patient lady explained that ferns were not cats , needed more/ different care .

    I returned home , with new plants , chastened but determined .

    Many months later , after daily’s watering and the right amounts of fertilizer I am thrilled to report my ferns are alive and .. I daresay.. thriving !!

    It’s a wonderful feeling to tend to a tiny plant with your own hands and watch it come alive, a beautiful thing to behold .

    I marvel at how little a plant needs , sunlight and water , a drop of love and it becomes a gorgeous living breathing beautiful thing …

    But summer .. I long for days of nothing . I think I might take all six weeks of leave , convince friends and family to join me , and rent a little house in one of the islands for a few weeks , close to the ocean blue .

    I’m hoping then , that the colour of my summer will be the colour of the skies reflecting in the ocean .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisi-Tana says:

      I loved reading your comment. Thank you for sharing that about your dad. I had no idea he was an avid gardener. I had NO idea you also had a whitey tree. I’d like to think that whitey grows only in Guyana and no where else.

      I think you’re brave in going back to the plant lady and trying again. Now they’re growing and doing well. I believe that different ferns require different things. (You can always ask my mom)

      Also – really – at the end of the day, all we really need is some water, food and a little love. (Really well said!)

      I think for me the BEST-est part of gardening was watching the soil everyday to see the teeny-tiny bit of green – bent and delicate push up through the soil, strong as anything.
      That is amazing to me.

      PS Let’s plan on that holiday!


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