Sunday, March 19, 2006


Remember way back last fall when I magically transformed this:
In the beginning...

Into this:
New Backyard!

Well, the winter has come and gone (please?) and it's time for round two: planting. I want the back twenty looking like a blue ribbon botanical exhibition by June. The thing is, I know absolutely nothing about gardening. I don't really see this as a problem. I just need to go out there with a burlap satchel over my shoulder and start tossing out my unborn plants like Johnny Appleseed, right?

So today I took my roommate and the grandma-cart down to 14th Street to pick up supplies. Then I made the Big Mistake. When I went inside to the cash register to ask how much their bags of top soil were, the head honcho was standing there giving advice to the city-folk, so I told him I was new at this and asked if I was doing anything totally egregious or missing some Obvious Gardening Step in my plan.

Apparently I was. He proceeded to give me a dissertation on the scientific process of soil testing and plant placement. Was I planting flowers or vegetables? Are the flowers bushes or stalks? Do they need partial or full light? Are you planting anything near a drain pipe? What's the quality and composition of your soil?

It was that last question that hit the final nail the coffin of my shopping expedition. He said I needed to find out if I have "terra cotta" soil. To do this, I have to dig four, one-foot deep holes and see if I hit clay. If I do, well then, forget it. Nothing will grow and I'll have to slow the rotation of the earth and invent a chemical process that will turn my lead soil into gold. I think it involved mulch.

When he realized I knew the answers to none of these questions, he more or less forbade me from buying anything. Because, of course, I couldn't possibly be buying top soil and plants if I ended up having the Terra Cotta Soil From Hell. Go dig a hole, he said. Eff me.

So the garden-man totally denied me. And if you think I'm digging a goddamn series of holes in my yard, you're crazy. Look at that first picture again - things can grow. I had a whole freaking forest in there when we moved in. So, I'm going to go back later this week and buy the shit I need. My roommate thinks there's going to be a picture of me by the register that says, "Don't sell top soil to this woman." I told him I'd wear my glasses and a hat, just in case.

I did foil him a little bit, though. I had stopped by the hardware store on Saturday and picked up some seeds and a starter kit. Behold:

The Garden - Day 1

Morning Glories and tomatoes. Beefsteak tomatoes, to be exact. We want to cultivate the Morning Glories onto our back fence, so we'll see how that pans out. I'll try to document the process, so start filling out your brackets now to pick which seedlings I kill off first.


At 4:31 AM, March 20, 2006, Blogger G. said...

That guy sounds like a jackass. Tomatoes and morning glories will grow anywhere (but almost all vegetables do need full sun). Plus that's the fun of gardening -- if it dies, try something else.

At 8:20 AM, March 20, 2006, Blogger CM said...

Either the garden guy was right not to sell you anything, or your pictures are reversed.

At 8:26 AM, March 20, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

They're not reversed. Those were horrible, terrible weeds that had to be ended. It's hard to tell in the picture, but I successfully replanted the few "real" plants that were left - they're fern like things, but they're kind of hidden in the shadow. I wouldn't have been able to do anything with the yard if I'd left those crazy alien weeds! See that nice "porch" area we have now?

At 8:47 AM, March 20, 2006, Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I remember those weeds from a place I lived in Takoma Park. Hated them.

This is cool, like a science experiment. Can't wait to see the process unfolding. Gardening is hard work, but such great work. I salute you!

At 12:56 PM, March 21, 2006, Blogger Kelly said...

I can't wait to read how the gardening goes. It is one of my heart's desires to garden someday.


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