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:
- We absolutely, positively, most certainly could not use a snow shovel to till our yard.
- 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.
- 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.
- Topsoil plus peat. 50-50 ratio.
- 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…”
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…”