The Imperfect Gardener

by Adina Sara

I just spent a glorious, magical, long-awaited sunny day working in the garden, and I can't even tell you what I did. The rain did wonders for so many things. The sweet peas have grown six feet already, and the Fourth of July climbing rose thinks it's July. Pathways need clearing, veggies need planting, and the birdbaths are looking for customers.

You can still plant late and short-season varieties of tomatoes. Celebrity is a good short-season tomato, as is Sungold, an abundant and luscious-tasting cherry variety. Sungolds ripen fast (57 days) and bear through November unless the weather gets too cold.

To Bamboo or Not to Bamboo

I decided the time had come to eradicate a 15-foot wall of bamboo. I noticed that it was not only blocking the winter sunsets, but also trampling a huge sunny corner that could be perfect for climbing vegetables, that is, if the sun ever decided to return. The ground was so moist that the task of digging out the bamboo seemed like it would be easy, even fun.

One broken pick and several weekends of two strong men later, the task was not close to being over. Bamboo corms are thick and deep, and they do not go gently.

It was then that an e-mail came over the miraculous Metro Garden Club network. A neighbor couple was hoping to find some bamboo to shield their garden from a rude billboard. I responded instantly, telling them they could help themselves to all the bamboo they wanted, provided that they dig it up, adding it probably was not a good idea to plant the monsters directly in the ground. They agreed.

And so they came, picks in hand, to score what they kept insisting were hundreds of dollars worth of bamboo. I felt guilty watching them grunting and sweating their way around the impossibly gnarled bamboo bed. I offered refreshments, some extra iris, by way of consolation, but they didn't need consolation. They were giddy, like miners who just hit the mother lode.

Several wheelbarrows later, the happy couple filled their hatchback to the last inch with bamboo shoots, and I began to imagine the possibility of scarlet runner beans and sugar snap peas climbing freely against the back fence. We tripped over our thank yous, each thinking we had just scored an unbelievable victory.

This is gardening, and neighboring, at its best. One gardener's headache is another gardener's dream come true. Contact TheMetroGardenClub\, and ask to be added to the growing list of enthusiastic gardening neighbors. We may never completely replace the need to spend money at nurseries, but we can come pretty close.

More Plant Swapping

The 14th annual San Leandro Plant Swap will be held Sunday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 182 Sunnyside Dr., San Leandro. Bring indoor, outdoor, and ornamental plants, seeds, bulbs, and cuttings that you don't want, and take homes ones you do. The swap also is good for garden rock, compost, and miscellaneous gardening equipment. Bring a bag lunch if you plan to spend the day. Extra chairs and tables are always welcome. Call Rose Riskind, 638-6903, for more information.