Race to the bottom

On Saturday morning, I attended a conference in Fairfield, Iowa for food entrepreneurs—less because I am a food entrepreneur, more because I never turn down an opportunity to try local, organic cheese. Before the conference began, I stood in a group of three: me, a friend of mine from Iowa City who had tipped me off to the conference, and a radio disc jockey from Fairfield.

My Iowa City friend said she thought my gardening skills really aren’t that bad. “Now me, on the other hand…my grandfather was a florist, and I kill mint,” she said.

“I have you both beat,” the disc jockey said. “I killed a cactus.”

The two of us stared at him for a second. I contemplated what it would take to actually kill a cactus. Aren’t they supposed to rock on in brutal conditions?

“How did you do that?” I asked. “Did you forget to water it?”

He just smiled. And then I smiled. Because, in fact, while I might have killed a lot of plants in my day, I can honestly say I’ve never killed a cactus.

Then again, I’ve never planted one, either.

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27 Responses to “Race to the bottom”


  1. 1 carol November 6, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    I vote for the “mint-killer” to be the bottom. I I don’t know how you could kill mint, but I know you can kill cactus. I have experience with both!

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener November 8, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    Carol, you crack me up. I’m sure the cactus-killer will feel much better now! I’m not sure how the mint-killer will feel about it, though…

  3. 3 wes November 8, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    When I think I think of cacti, I think of dry, hot Arizona. When I think of Arizona I think of that song about the guy standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. And when I think of that, I think of how you sent me a really funny letter about a decade ago in which you claimed to have been born in Winslow, AZ. It was really funny.

  4. 4 cole November 9, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    My living stones died. I was so sad. They got too cold I think on my sun porch in Cape Cod. They look like little hiney’s. Maybe they are more succulent than cactus. When we moved I lost all my plants. I cried. My aloe, from my husbands grandfather would bloom, in the winter, indoors, twice a winter.

    Your random strangers cactus made me think of that.

    I wish I could kill the mint and ivy in my side yard. sigh.

  5. 5 inadvertentgardener November 10, 2006 at 12:46 am

    Wes, there is no proof (other than my birth certificate, to which you are not privy) that I was not born ON THAT SAME CORNER in Winslow, Arizona. But, I’m going to have to correct you and explain that really, it was our mutual friend who was born in Winslow. Not me. And I do have proof of that, because somewhere I have the college choir program that SHOWS IT’S TRUE.

    (Sorry, regular readers, for the Interruption of the Inside Jokes. It had to be done.)

    Cole, maybe we need to send my friend out to help kill your mint? I’m sorry about the aloe plant and about losing the plants when you moved. I worry about that, actually…the losing of the plants. I’m not good with change. Or goodbyes. Even with plants.

  6. 6 Craig Bachman January 8, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Leave it up to a disc jockey to kill one of the toughest plants alive. I once killed a Bonzai but then again I live in Pennsylvania.

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener January 8, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Craig, I’m not sure I even know what a Bonzai is…which means I’m no kind of gardener!

  8. 8 Gotta Garden March 13, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Followed your link here…too funny! However, I, too, vote for the mint killer (sorry)…over-watering is probably the cause of the cactus death…and, in general, the number one cause of houseplant death. In my former part time job in a garden center, we lost many of those cute little succulents and cacti to over-watering…If your friend were bindweed killer, she might just get a medal! Just kidding around! (Maybe she over-watered the mint??)

  9. 9 inadvertentgardener March 14, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Gotta Garden, I honestly had no idea that you could over-water a cactus, but I guess that makes sense. I’ll have to ask my friend about that mint…I’m not sure what did the trick!

  10. 10 Willa March 16, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Whne we were in college, I gave my then boyfriend (now husband)a cactus. He was very proud of having kept it alive and not allowing it to mold. When he left college, he took the cactus home and put it on his mother’s window sill in the dining room. At that time, his neighborhood was past transitional and into bad. One day he came home and found his cactus on the floor. He asked his mom why, she didn’t know. They checked the cactus and found it was a victim of a drive by shooting- someone had drilled it with a small caliber bullet or BB. (There was a hole in the window, but no bullet to be found, and no one was hurt.)

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener March 17, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Willa, I’m speechless. That’s a crazy story! I’m glad if anyone had to give up their life in a drive-by shooting that it was just a cactus. Yikes!

  12. 12 Scott March 25, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    I used to think mint was the one and only un-killable organism. Oregano has just proved me wrong. It’s tough as all-get-out, but you can’t make a mojito with it.

  13. 13 inadvertentgardener March 26, 2007 at 7:05 am

    But at least you can make a highly tasty pasta sauce with it. Or pizza.

    I didn’t realize oregano was such a toughie…interesting!

  14. 14 Miss T June 11, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    I thought I was the only person who’d ever killed mint!

  15. 15 inadvertentgardener June 11, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Miss T, apparently you’re not alone!

  16. 16 kea September 16, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    *sigh* Not only have I killed mint, I have killed it repeatedly. Right now I have some mint _cuttings_ in a jar of water, and the leaves are turning brown too. I suck.

  17. 17 inadvertentgardener September 16, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Kea, if I put mint cuttings in a jar of water, I’d definitely kill them too — there’s no doubt about it. Honestly, for all everyone fears about it propagating all over the place, I think you should be delighted that you kill it! It’s one thing you can probably always acquire from other gardeners with a mint problem.


  1. 1 We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast… « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on November 20, 2006 at 10:57 pm
  2. 2 Curiosity killed the cactus « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on March 28, 2007 at 12:01 pm
  3. 3 Down on the farm « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on June 11, 2007 at 12:37 pm
  4. 4 Not living up to her name this year « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on July 7, 2007 at 2:37 am
  5. 5 Whole red snapper with mint, basil and feta « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on July 7, 2007 at 9:52 pm
  6. 6 The season for frenzy comes to an abrupt halt « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on November 3, 2007 at 8:05 pm
  7. 7 Edible times five « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on November 5, 2007 at 7:59 am
  8. 8 Fish biscuits to warm the snowy soul « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on February 7, 2008 at 10:56 pm
  9. 9 Pesto: the cure for what ails me « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on February 9, 2008 at 3:43 pm
  10. 10 Debunking my personal plumeria myth « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on July 16, 2008 at 7:48 am

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