Teach the children well

Two days later, we arrived on Maggie and Heal’s front porch, ready to learn what we could, and planning to hit Paul’s Discount afterwards for bags of topsoil.

Here is some of what I learned during our gardening lesson:

  1. We absolutely, positively, most certainly could not use a snow shovel to till our yard.
  2. We ought to just give up on any hope of tomatoes surviving container gardening in Iowa. Not to say that it can’t be done, it’s just not recommended.
  3. Because we are new, we should grow things from seedlings, because seeds are frustrating and, unless you have those x-ray glasses from the back of the comic books (and sometimes even then), you can’t see what’s happening until the sprouts break the surface. Boooooring. Also, if we were going to start with seeds, we should have done that in March. Inside.
  4. Topsoil plus peat. 50-50 ratio.
  5. Compost is not that hard to make. However, I will also say that Maggie and Heal’s compost looked rich and nice and non-smelly, unlike other compost piles I have known. Perhaps this is something to aspire to? We’ll see. I’m still working on the conversion process.

Luckily, Maggie and Heal did, in fact, allow us to borrow their real shovel. They also sent us home with compost, and a gardening book.

I began reading the book as Steve drove us to Paul’s Discount. The sun had dropped to an angle that put it directly in my eyes, forcing me to squint abnormally hard. Steve had the radio on, playing an NPR game show at a high volume, and the combination of the bright light, the noise, and the overwhelming realization that we were about to put in a garden and have to take care of it apparently came through on my face.

“What’s wrong with you?” Steve asked. “Why do you look like that?”

I shook my head back and forth rapidly. “It’s…so…loud…” I moaned.

He turned down the radio. “Better?”

“Too bright,” I said. “Hurts…”

Paul's Discount
By the time we arrived in the Paul’s parking lot, I was positive I was suffering from pre-traumatic stress syndrome. It was already 6:17 p.m., the sun was rapidly descending, and we were just buying dirt with the intent of putting in a garden that very same evening.

As Steve took my hand and led me toward Paul’s Discount, I muttered under my breath, “I…just…wanted…pots…”

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5 Responses to “Teach the children well”


  1. 1 Steve May 14, 2006 at 9:28 am

    I sense in some of these comments the inference of a certain level of coertion on my part. You’re an adult. If you didn’t want to garden, you could have Just Said No.

    I was FACILITATING the experience. Not taking over. No. (Okay, maybe some) but you turned to me, for advice and support and, told half the population of Iowa City that we were a-gardening. Oh yes. Loved the idea of gardening. Loved the salt of the earth implications…then folded like a tomato plant in a pot when faced with the reality of planting a garden at midnight (which is the best time to do it, that’s how they do it in Alaska, btw, the plant at midnight, the Eskimos do, so the plants are firmly sturdy in the soil when the sun finally rises…how else would they grow tomatoes in that climate? And some of the best tomatoes I’ve ever had were Alaskan. Anyway, to those people reading this: She was…well she wasn’t giddy. She was hungry. And tired. But I couldn’t just leave the tomatoes sitting there, abandoned in both pots and in the planter’s at Paul’s. THEY NEEDED A HOME.

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener May 14, 2006 at 11:09 am

    Alaska, huh? Eskimos? I don’t know…this sounds like a logical reach to me. However, you’re right — I was merrily, blithely, nay, irresponsibly trying to squeeze too many cherry tomato seedlings into too small a pot, so you’re right…the garden is, really, an act of mercy.

    :-) Genie


  1. 1 The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on May 30, 2006 at 6:52 pm
  2. 2 Lavender coolers « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on June 17, 2007 at 12:51 am
  3. 3 Heirloom panzanella « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on August 11, 2007 at 6:59 am

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