Putting in a garden helps local wildlife

Of the things adult humans do after buying a house, putting in a garden is apparently one of them. I must admit it’s a hassle to watch my wife go to the store time and again to purchase tomatoes and such before peeling them or whatever and putting them in a stew thing she makes when it would be much easier for her to simply dig a bunch of holes in our yard, plant some seedlings, water daily, weed weekly and care for everything for four months.

Since neither one of us had any idea how to start a garden I turned to my father for advice. I generally do whatever he recommends because he’s old and has already made a bunch of mistakes and can still possibly ground me if I end up doing something wrong. Unfortunately, he knows this and, I suspect, uses it to his advantage by telling me to do ridiculous things. He needs stuff to do. He’s retired. So I call him up.

Me: “So I’m thinking about starting a garden. What do I do?”

Dad: “First you’re going to need to go buy some seedlings.”

Me: “This already sounds too complicated. I can’t do it.”

Dad: “Sure you can. Then you buy a bag of manure.”

Me: “Uhhokay”

Mom (muffled): “What did you tell him?

Dad (muffled, to my mom): “I told him to go buy manure.”

Mom: “That’s rich! He’s not actually going to DO that, is he?”

Dad: “I think he is!”

Mom: “What should we have him do next?”

Dad: “Let’s tell him to climb up on his roof and clean out the gutters!”

Mom: “Like anyone does that!”

Then they high-five.

Because I don’t think I’m at a point in my life where I can walk up to someone and ask for – not to mention purchase – a bag of poop, I consider various alternatives. I look at my son, who, for the last 20 minutes, has been attached to my leg begging for fruit snacks like he’s some kind of junkie desperately looking for his next fix. This is, of course, an insult to junkies, because once a junkie has gotten their fix they don’t generally jam their head into my groin as they crawl up into my lap, grab my face and demand another hit.

Anyway, I’ve lovingly nicknamed him The Human Poop Machine and contemplate if I can convince him to “go” on the vegetables. After changing a diaper I decide to try my experiment. Bottomless (him, not me), I lead my son over to the bushes for a “test run.”

“Poop!” I command, squatting, tucking my arms in and squinting my eyes, the universal charade for poop.

“Fwuuuit?” he says, which is his way of asking for fruit snacks.

Mission failure. It’s okay, I conclude. I don’t know if the plants would be able to absorb any nutrients from digested SpaghettiOs and Phineas and Ferb fruit snacks, provided there are any.

Entering the nursery/garden center is like driving into the Congo. A toucan dive-bombs my car. I turn to kiss my family. Some of them probably wouldn’t be coming back alive.

Thankfully I’m wearing my khaki safari shorts with the assortment of pockets that smart outdoorsmen would’ve packed with a flint and water purifying tablets. I have pockets full of snacks in various stages of melting (if needed, I could keep myself alive for weeks just by sucking on the insides of my pockets). They belong to my daughter, but she disappeared almost the moment she got out of the car, presumably swallowed whole by some quicksand over by the perennials, which I believe are a thing. I just checked the Internet and discover perennials are a thing. A plant, even. Good for me.

I grab a “cart” which is a generous description of the crate and 1920s roller skate wheels attached together with seagull phlegm. I find an employee so I can get out of here.

“Plants,” I say. “Give me them.”

“Sure thing, buckaroo! What kind?” he said, far too cheerfully. Who calls someone “buckaroo” anyway? Probably all hopped up on coriander.

It occurs to me that I should’ve probably thought of this before.

“I have no idea,” I replied. “Delicious ones?”

“How about some peppers?” he suggests. I contemplate this.

“I don’t think so. Do you have any that grow pizza?”

After leaving with plants that will grow ingredients for pizza we now were forced to do the installation. Our critter-accessible plot location forced us to build a crude wall around the vulnerable plants with bricks stolen from a couple of neighbors. My suggestion we install motion-sensor lasers or land mines were brushed off as “the delusional ramblings of a crazy person.” I’m sure that the exact argument when Alexander Graham Bell thought about designing the telephone.

“Would you rather have a few holes in the yard and exploded rabbitsor no red peppers?” I asked. “You can’t have both.”

As always she opted for the path that DIDN’T lead to explosions and lawsuits (lame).

After a couple of weeks, the plants look like they’ve had enough and are slowly trying to either A) extract themselves and leave for better care or less manure or B) kill themselves.

“Can you believe he covered us in manure?” they seem to be gasping, sadly, while giving up and resigning themselves to a slow death. I can see their point. Whenever I’m tasked to work outside I shrivel up and feel like giving up too.


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at vandkel@hotmail.com