An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Posts tagged ‘Gardening’

Noxious Weeds and Other Battles of Mortality

Our son Techie and his wife rented a house with a huge yard in Western Washington and proposed to grow their own food by the “sweat of their brow.” But bamboo shoots, infiltrating from a neighbor’s yard, covered every part of their garden area that blackberry bushes hadn’t claimed. The lawn mower balked at cutting a blackberry patch surrounded by a bamboo jungle, so Techie bought a machete and spent weekends commando-whacking bamboo. The bamboo rose to the occasion, digging in and sending up replacement shoots ready for the next weekend’s attack. Just like the Taliban, they knew they could outwait Techie.

Our daughter-in-law proposed a pet goat to solve the problem. City ordinance allowed a pet goat. The neighbors approved a pet goat. The landlady did not.

Techie went online and found that anything can be rented—even goats. He signed a three-week contract for three goats—hoping the landlady would not show up during that time. On a Saturday morning, a truck drove up, unloaded three goats, and sped away. Two goats bounded for the blackberry bushes and started chomping. The smallest goat refused to eat, but Techie thought it would cooperate once it got used to its new surroundings. The hungry goats drew the line at eating bamboo shoots over six inches high although they were quite willing to devour new shoots in the areas Techie had clear cut.

Three days later the blackberry bushes were disappearing, but the bamboo remained—and a dead goat lay on the front lawn. The non-eating goat had obviously not gotten used to its new surroundings. Techie called the agency and was told he owed them for the goat.

Techie gave up the idea of a half-acre garden plot and built grow boxes. Unfortunately, moles found a way to penetrate the impenetrable boxes and carrots, beets, and other root vegetables stealthily disappeared before harvest time.

Techie’s dad recommends putting carbide in the mole holes and dropping a match inside. I suggest they simply declare victory and leave the field to the locals. Signing up for a weekly delivery of vegetables from a local truck farmer has got to be cheaper and safer than renting goats and blowing up moles.

Flower Power

My daughter phoned this morning to say she’d called in sick. Would I like to go to a couple of plant nurseries with her? Possibly a more righteous person would have refused to go along with the deceit, but any parent of adult children knows they do not cotton to our advice. And it’s not like I have never called in sick myself when I just really needed a day off. At any rate, today I too needed some greenhouse time to cope with our cold May weather.

Is there any better way to spend a chilly spring morning than in a greenhouse? Warmth, humidity, green leaves, blossoms. Scarlet geraniums defying the cold outside, perky yellow marigolds substituting for sunshine, cascading purple petunias, hanging baskets dripping with pink and white fuchsias.

Then the vegetables! Just touching a tomato leaf releases the scent of August—our tiny tomato patch with ripe, juicy globes of red. George and I watching the first one greedily—each hoping to beat the other to the first real taste of summer.

I could call gardening a religious experience: Faith in warmer days to come—Hope that this year I’ll outwit the snails and grasshoppers—and Charity for aching muscles that I cart off for a massage after a day of stoop labor.  

We leave the nursery an hour later, our arms laden with leaves and blossoms, our wallets lighter. And no, my yard will never look like a Sunset Magazine layout, but perfection is no more essential for happiness than intelligence is for procreation.

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