It has taken me years, but I believe I am a happy plant murderer now.
Perhaps it is a matter of scale: scale up one’s garden considerably, there’s not much wiggle room for the slackers of the garden world. If a seedling looks stunted compared to its fellows, then I pull it. If half a tomato plant’s production of fruit has blossom-end rot, then I kill it. If I don’t need any more broccoli out of a perfectly fine plant, then I uproot it.
And with this newfound bloodlust (okay: if plants don’t have blood, should I say chlorophyll-killing lust?), I am a happier person. I don’t have that groaning maternalistic impulse to save all seedlings, nurture all volunteers. It’s liberating, this new relationship with my Felco pruners, these limber muscles normally utilized solely in weed-pulling. I can now happily lay waste to any garden bed, regardless of contents. And I did so recently! All but the paste tomatoes are history, as are the eggplants, okra and tomatillos. Whee!
This is so contrary to my upbringing and training that it’s quite remarkable. But it’s a point of evolution most gardeners undergo, I suppose, especially we gardeners bent on year-round food production for our households, because succession planting and efficient use of space both outweigh the needs of any one individual, ailing plant. And seed-saving likewise does not favor the slackers, the malingerers; instead, it’s all hurry-up-and-grow. Then: Quick death in my hands.
I would hate this to be a general policy toward everything, but accepting the full mantle of Plant Grower, Nurturer and Compost-filling Killer is not a terribly heavy burden on my shoulders. It did take me a long time to get here, though.