Tuesday, July 23, 2013


A lot of folks think that when (not if) the world goes into the apocalypse dumper they are going to be able to walk outside, throw some lettuce and tomato seeds on the ground and grow a salad with croutons. A lot of people are going to die hungry and sad.

I am a gardener. I grow things in dirt. I crawl around on my boney knees, scrabbling around among the grubs and weeds, trying to grow stuff in dirt. Once in a while, I succeed but not always.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years of being next to the dirt.

DIRT IS NEVER ENOUGH:  Most dirt is a sad excuse for potting soil from Home Depot. Most dirt requires big help to be useful in the growing of anything more than weeds and blisters. In Florida dirt is mostly sand mixed with heartbreak.  

POOP IS GOLD:  The stuff that falls out of the back end of animals is better than cash when it comes to fixing the heartbreak of sand. When other people see nasty rabbit pucky, a gardener sees ambrosia for squash. 

MOTHER NATURE IS A WITCH (WITH A B): The natural world is one of two things, too much or not enough. Not enough rain and the harvest looks like pretend vegetables for a doll house. Too much rain and the harvest looks like the mushy stuff that comes out of the back end of animals. Perfect is not a state known in nature. Quit waiting for perfect. Adapt. Adjust. Anticipate.        

THERE’S A LEARNING CURVE TO EVERYTHING: A lot of people in cities think they like nature, natural stuff, and organic as long as their apples don’t have wormholes in them. News flash! Organic means wormholes!  Bugs chewing on a cucumber means that the cucumber wasn’t raised in a waterfall of bug poison. Think about it!

LADYBUGS ARE NOT THE DELTA FORCE: Organic gardeners like to tout the benefits of buying ladybugs from the ladybug store and unleashing them on the ravaging hordes of “bad” insects poised to eat my garden right down to the sand. I garden in Florida. Ravaging hordes of “bad” insects in my state are like Visigoths mixed with Nazis. Unless ladybugs come armed with flamethrowers they’re going to lose the bug wars. I tend to crop dust.

BE PREPARED TO WEEP:  I have learned over the years that I can do everything right. Right plants. Right soil. Right time. Everything seems to be growing along fine, and my vegetable garden looks like the rosy cheek of a newborn baby, full of promise and life and hope and joy, and      then . . . flood, fire, famine, cricket swarm, cutworm pirates, rabbit herd, deer swarm, the neighbor’s goats or chickens or don’t ask . . . and it’s back to sand and heartbreak.

BE PREPARED TO REJOICE: But when it works . . . Watching my grandchildren pick green beans, that they have helped me plant, makes me hopeful. They have watched and waited and weeded and worried. By watching they learned to look beyond themselves. By waiting they learned patience. By weeding they learned to work. And with worry came the ultimate relief of success.


Linda (Growing My Own) Zern        



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