Before firing up the grill the night we had lamb burgers, Steve carried trowelsful of charcoal ash over to the garden and scattered it around the base of each plant. “It’s good for the plants,” he said, citing his Peace Corps housemate as the source of this knowledge.
It seemed as good a theory as any.
The next day, we went out to the garden center and bought a few marigolds for the garden and basil, Italian parsley, and lavender for me to put in containers. Steve was inside while I started repotting the herbs, but suddenly he came flying out the kitchen door and down the back steps.
“Where’s the trowel?” he said.
“I’m using it,” I said, continuing to load a container with potting mix.
“I need it,” he said. “Now!”
I handed it over, and he ran to the garden, where he began scraping at the dirt around the base of each plant. I started to laugh. “Something wrong?”
“Wood ash,” he said. “Not charcoal ash. Wood ash is what’s good for the plants. I just looked it up on the Web.” He pronounced us very lucky that he had not actually worked the stuff into the soil.
Score another point for Saint Internet, patron to inadvertent gardeners everywhere.