Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You Dropped a Piece of Sod on It

I completely lifted this from Margaret Roach's A Way to Garden. I've done all of these and more. You?
Why Did My Plant Die?

You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You hoed it down. You weeded it.
You planted it the wrong way up.
You grew it in a yogurt cup
But you forgot to make a hole;
The soggy compost took its toll.
September storm. November drought.
It heaved in March, the roots popped out.
You watered it with herbicide.
You scattered bonemeal far and wide.
Attracting local omnivores,
Who ate your plant and stayed for more.
You left it baking in the sun
While you departed at a run
To find a spade, perhaps a trowel,
Meanwhile the plant threw in the towel.
You planted it with crown too high;
The soil washed off, that explains why.
Too high pH. It hated lime.
Alas it needs a gentler clime.
You left the root ball wrapped in plastic.
You broke the roots. They’re not elastic.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You splashed the plant with mower oil.
You should do something to your soil.
Too rich. Too poor. Such wretched tilth.
Your soil is clay. Your soil is filth.
Your plant was eaten by a slug.
The growing point contained a bug.
These aphids are controlled by ants,
Who milk the juice, it kills the plants.
In early spring your garden’s mud.
You walked around! That’s not much good.
With heat and light you hurried it.
You worried it. You buried it.
The poor plant missed the mountain air:
No heat, no summer muggs up there.
You overfed it 10-10-10.
Forgot to water it again.
You hit it sharply with the hose.
You used a can without a rose.
Perhaps you sprinkled from above.
You should have talked to it with love.
The nursery mailed it without roots.
You killed it with those gardening boots.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.

“Why Did My Plant Die?” is just one piece of the wisdom in Geoffrey Charlesworth’s book “The Opinionated Gardener: Random Offshoots From an Alpine Garden,” a collectible must for every gardener’s bookshelf.

I had dinner tonight w/ Son, DiL, and G/Son, and G/Son and I were planning our weekend. He asked if we could plant some vegetable seeds and I said, "Sure, I have some squash, tomato, and cucumber seeds," and G/Son said, "Carrots!" (His mom makes the most amazing dilled carrots and they're his favorite vegetable.) I promised to pick up some carrot seeds.

I think when we're planting them, I'll tell him Michael Pollan's story about learning to think like a plant. Pollan's carrots were short, stunted, and knobby (one is tempted to say: mean, brutish, and short, and indeed, I have known carrots that were, indeed) and he couldn't figure out why, until he challenged himself to think like a carrot. Imagining that his finger was a carrot, he stuck it into his garden soil to see if he could figure out why a carrot wouldn't be happy there. And, he found that his soil was -- wait for it -- hard. His finger could only go in a few inches before it stopped and more pressure wasn't able to move it any farther down. That's when Pollan learned not only to till his carrot garden soil so that it was nice and loose, even very deep down, filled with soft, loamy, composty soil, but also how to think like a plant.

Last night I was reading David Abram's chapter about how thoughts come and go (and talk of Michalengelo -- no Hecate! not everything is a reason to segue into poetry! control!) depending upon our physical surroundings and how:
What if there is, yes, a quality of inwardness to the mind, not because the mind is located inside us (inside our body or brain), but because we are situated, bodily, inside it -- because our lives and our thoughts unfold in the depths of a mind that is not really ours, but is rather the Earth's? What if like the hunkered owl, and the spruce bending above it, and the beetle staggering from needle to needle to needle on that branch, we all partake of the wide intelligence (be still de Chardin! Abrams is talking about something that undergirds and will, perhaps, outlast, the noosphere) of this world -- because we're materially participant, with our actions and our passions, in the broad psyche of this sphere?

And I think that the thoughts of the carrots and the thoughts of the gardener make, when gardening is done right, one thought. And yet, we gardeners, (We few, we happy few, we band of -- stop! It's carrot seeds, not Agincourt!), we do still keep killing plants, often with the best of (watery) intentions. Indeed, someone once said that, if you are not killing plants, you are gardening below your abilities. I, myself, am guilty of many, many, many (mea culpa, mea . . . stop! you're not catholic anymore) things, but gardening below my abilities is, Flora knows, not one of them.

So, G/Son and I have a lot of plans for this weekend. Something outside if the weather is at all fine. A trip to the toy store. A game of "Calvin Ball Chase," which for reasons both obscure and occult, G/Son and I call "The Power of Salt," (where G/Son gets to change the rules at will) in the basement. An experiment to see which fruits taste best dipped in chocolate. (G/Son is holding out for watermelon and croissants (not exactly, scientifically a fruit, but, well we are mad scientists) and I am voting for oranges, but DiL thinks maybe bananas will be best. We are going to take pictures, put them in a document, write something about each one under the picture, and let G/Son take it to school on Tuesday.) Nonna got a book about Dr. King that she wants to read before we go to bed. And we will probably watch some Scooby Doo and snack on some spiced nuts because, well, because that is how we roll.

And, we are going to plant carrot seeds and think like carrots. We are going to be, in Abrams' words, materially participant, with our actions and our passions, in the broad psyche of this sphere. No, seriously, that's what I think is happening when an old woman and her G/Son plant some carrot seeds. I do.

You come, too.

Picture found here.


Anonymous said...

I think you may have dropped a piece of sod not so much on my head, as into my brain. Quoting Teilhard de Chardin, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, and Calvin and Hobbes in the same column? Now, that's just showing off. Delightfully so, but still ....
You are quite likely the coolest grandma in the world. I will confer the title without reservation when I spot a Terry Pratchett quote - in perpetuity for two, one of witch (see? it's contagious!) comes from the Tiffany Aching series.

Anonymous said...

More quotes, a few of my faves by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

found here
Letter from Birmingham Jail — April 16, 1963

While jailed for leading anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, King wrote this letter arguing that individuals have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was "well timed," according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."


I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character


The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.


We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.

And just for fun
Magna Carta, Clause 29. (Forerunner to BoR Due Process clause) NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.

Which of course was updated in the Bill of Rights to reflect preeminence of Law of Land over judgment by peers (who can sometimes be unlawful in their characterizations).

Oh and if, by material participation you mean being forced to rent out head space against one's will, well then, indeed. ~zm

Double Jointed Fingers said...

I so identify with your opening paragraph! I've done many of those awful things to my beauties. I am not so much of a veggie gardener, as a flower child. I love flowers. And trees. Maybe I shall branch out and try carrots. :)

Crone said...

Thanks for the poetic contributions, as well as just being. Glad I found your blog. It's such a sensory pleasure.
Barb R. crone.potter
Alchemy of Clay