The vertical strawberry garden was going to be like a second savior to me. If I got the strawberries out of the ground, they wouldn’t be so prone to the rot fungus, anthracnose, that they get every year. Right? And the mice wouldn’t be able to get to them.
Here’s how it was supposed to work (uh-oh, note the phrase “supposed to”): I poke a hole in the bottom of a container (I used empty frozen fruit bags), insert a rope the height of the container plus two inches, then fill the container with soil, working it in around the rope. Finally, I plant in a strawberry plant.
The extra rope hanging out the bottom would go down into a hole in the PVC pipe, and was supposed to wick the water in the pipe up into the soil.
Uh-oh. There’s that phrase “supposed to” again.
And it was only supposed to require a once-a-week watering.
Aaannd…another one! Three “supposed to’s”. Can you guess what’s coming?
Yep. The wicking failed, and the pipes needed refilling several times a week, not one.
Besides many of the plants drying up thanks to the wicking not keeping enough of the soil moist, the fruits in the vertical garden got rot just the same as the ones that I’d left in the ground.
What to do? What to do? J had spent so much time putting the structure together. I wasn’t going to let myself give up.
I know! Redo the containers, but this time coil the rope inside the soil so the water could get to more of the plants’ roots.
Newsflash: I despised putting the containers together the first time. Would I really want to redo it?
Okay, so maybe I can plant something else instead, something with a simpler wicking solution. What about fashioning containers out of fabric that would fit into the one-and-a-half inch holes – finger-shaped things – fill them with coconut coir, and grow lettuce and spinach on the vertical garden?
Yeah, yeah, that would work! And I could quit feeling guilty for having asked J to build the structure, because I would use it for something, right?
But after some time, I realized I didn’t want to do the work it would require to improvise such tiny containers.
Back to the drawing board.
Hmm. Thinking, thinking…I still want to grow strawberries. Might there be a more effective way to use the pipes than the rope-wicking way?
I know! Line frozen fruit bags with landscaping fabric. Poke a hole in the middle of the bottom of each bag that’s big enough to push two inches of the fabric through. When I fill the bag with potting mix, I make sure to fill that little “finger” so that when I stick it into the water-filled pipe, it will suck up water.
The concept works, but after making three such bags I again asked myself, “Do I want to have to pay for the therapy I’ll need after putting fifty or more of these bags together?”
The answer was a definite, “Probably not.”
In the meantime, J had told me a couple of times that he wouldn’t mind taking the thing apart. Really.
But I just couldn’t let him do it. I made him make the thing, so by golly, I was going to figure out a use for it!
Except…every single idea I had overwhelmed me. And besides, underlying each idea was the thought that it might fail as big as the original idea had.
Finally, I stopped trying to figure out how to use the vertical garden structure, and started trying to figure out why I couldn’t just let J take it down.
The answer came swift and sure: guilt. Because when you make a mistake, don’t you know, you can’t just be forgiven of it and move on. No. You have to do penance. You have to work for forgiveness.
That’s what I was brought up believing. And even though I started hearing differently as an adult, some of Satan’s hooks just take more time and effort to pull out than others.
God used the vertical strawberry garden to show me that, after years of struggling out of the bonds of religion, they still had a hold on my soul. In the back of my mind, I still believed that I didn’t deserve instant forgiveness for my mistakes and wrongdoing. That I had to earn it by beating myself over the head with guilt, and bending over backwards to make things right.
When the weather cools down a bit, that structure is going bye-bye. And, starting right now, I’m not going to feel guilty about it a second longer.
But I learned my lesson. Like I implied at the end of this post, I’m not going to have any more bright ideas that will involve huge projects on which J would have to do most of the work.