Hooked on Gardening, High on Plums

It’s spring alright—pollen is in the air around my two Semi-Dwarf Italian Prune trees, though only one of them is in bloom. They were moved to a new location on the property last year, closer together and away from the flowerbeds. I’ve had them for about seven years, but have never had any fruit. We figured the move would help, but now one is in a more shaded area than the other and about a week and a half behind it.

I started to fret.

“Who will impregnate my trees?!”

If they come into bloom at completely different times I’m undone, right?

Sound the alarm round the village!

I started asking gardeners what to do. Jane Iselin in Bridgehampton suggested I call Scott Chaskey at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett and ask him what to do. My neighbor and co-gardener Karen suggested I call someone at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service in Riverhead.

“They’re always so helpful.”

I didn’t want to bother Scott on the weekend, I figured no one would answer at Cornell. Then it hit me—Christine, an acquaintance who lives just outside the village, had told me that she has more fruit, including plums, than she knows what to do with every year. Maybe I could gather some spunk from her plum trees…

Did I know her well enough to beg for some sexual matter?

Would this take our burgeoning friendship to a whole new level?

I called her home number. She didn’t answer.

I proceeded to leave an extremely long, detailed message.

Then I thought to do what one should always do when first a gardening dilemma arises—I called Dan’s Papers gardening columnist Jeanelle Myers at 631-434-5067.

Her take: “Most fruit trees now are self-pollinating. Don’t worry about it.”

That’s a relief, but how in the hell do I undo that freaky phone message?

Oh well.

Just to be safe, I went out to the tree that’s in bloom and Q-tipped it all over. About halfway through the process I disturbed a bee at work and it flew away. Ya can’t win.

There have been a number of indicators that I’m hooked on gardening. First it was becoming one with the perfect pair of gloves and automatically throwing on an old straw hat every time I stepped outside. The arrival of our first delivery of “horse fertilizer” was a big day. I took pictures.

I knew I was really hooked on gardening when I started bringing compost home from the office. Of course, if I packed a lunch, I’d bring the leftovers home in their container. But now, especially on Tuesdays, when we stay late to close the paper, co-workers hand me their leftover food scraps to take home to compost. I’ve been thinking I should give my compost a name. I know some bakers affectionately/passive-aggressively call their sour dough starter “the bitch,” but I was thinking about something more along the lines of “Bertha” or “AbracaDebra.”

It’s quite a cycle. Hmmm, old magazines are compostable…

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