I have this personal credo when it comes to houseplants. When they start looking like they're getting ready to die, I put them on my back porch, ostensibly so that they can get some fresh air and sunshine. A backyard spa for plants.
Honestly, I put these pitiful plants outside because their leaves are falling off like the hairs on an old man's head, or because they're obviously not enjoying living the quiet, contemplative life of an indoor houseplant.
So I've been known to be passive/aggressive by punishing my errant houseplants. Go ahead and judge. These plants have every opportunity to come back inside - if they perk up, they come back in. If they continue down the path of withering unsightliness, they stay on the porch, and aren't invited back inside.
Houseplants aren't the same as garden plants. Houseplants are silent takers, and their primary function is to bring a slice of nature indoors.
Garden plants give back.
This tasty bowl of tomatoes is a case in point. My garden is presently producing amazing amounts of, well, produce. I've been plucking a few dozen roma and cherry tomatoes every day, and they're being consumed as fast as they ripen.
Thank god I entertain a lot.
If this high level of garden output continues at this pace, I'm thinking I'll need to up my game. Maybe open up a cookbook, learn how to freeze fresh produce, supply a food bank.
We're not only well stocked with tomatoes: the cukes and zukes keep appearing, growing quickly and profusely in an almost magical way.
Sadly, like a clean house or the thrill of a new romance, I know my garden won't last. A month from now, the giant tomato plants will become wilting skeletons dotted with shriveled tomatoes that are presently in hiding; the dinner plate-sized zucchini leaves will take on the look of sad, wet rags hanging on dried sticks.
But for now, my garden is like an intuitive friend who asks if you'd like to get together and talk, just a few minutes before you know you're lonely.
Sometimes, my houseplants seem like that friend who only calls to ask for a ride or to borrow a few bucks.
Maybe if houseplants did a little less taking and a little more giving, I wouldn't have to be so punitive.
In any case, soon my garden will take on the needy look of some of the houseplants that I've relegated to my back porch.
I miss my garden already. It's been so generous, so tasty. And like a fire, the ocean or an interpretive dance performance, the garden's been interesting to watch.