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The Humble Gardener

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Remembering All The Things

The end of the growing season brings many tasks to a close. The last task of the season: update the gardening journal.

Okay, that last statement makes me sound organized. Honesty compels me to confess that my gardening journal is more of a mental record than a written record. Chip has the utmost confidence in my ability to remember stuff; on a daily basis, he casually tosses a request to me about something that I am supposed to not only remember but also remind him. The man has more faith in me than anyone should. My desk is covered with scraps of paper reminding me of things I need to do. Unfortunately, during the busy growing season when I am either planting, weeding, picking or preserving, I think of things that need to be entered in my gardening journal but my dirty hands or tired body preclude me from writing in it. My solution is to jot cryptic notes to myself in a small notebook that lives in my gardening tool bucket. At the end of the day, I will look at the notes, torn from the notebook and stuffed into my pocket and, hands clean, transcribe the jottings into the permanent record. What a wonderful idea.

Unfortunately, at the end of a long summer day, I take the dirty scraps of paper and stick them in a folder with every intention of sitting down and updating the journal. Unfortunately, it is now mid-November and the only thing that has been updated is my to-do list, with the first thing being "Fill in Gardening Journal". The smudged scraps of paper, filled with illegible notes, are better than any mystery I have ever read.

With due diligence, I attempt the deciphering. Here is a note: carrots-yes. There are carrots in the garden? No, I wouldn't have written myself a note to remind me. The silly things are still there now, mulched and getting sweeter in the early frosts. Finally I remember. We want to plant that exact carrot next year; the crumbled, empty packet is scrunched into the folder of notes as mute testimony to our intentions to reorder. I update the journal, ecstatic that I have figured out the note. One down, 85 to go.

Another note: beets-deck. Hmm. Maybe I need to start writing a few more words. Ah! I remember. I started beets this year in a huge pot on our deck, a pot that I pass at least four to six times a day. In my passing, I see the beets and water them. And this preliminary planting produced beautiful little beets that I transplanted into the main garden where they thrived as no beets I have ever direct sowed into the garden has. Flushed with success, I am prematurely congratulating myself as I grab another note. And another. And...well, you have guessed where this is going. I revise my folder system and add a new category: "What the Heck?" Roughly every fourth note goes into that folder. Surely I will figure out the meanings over the next couple of months of winter.

One note that bears no thinking at all is "pics/Maisie". In August, my four-year-old granddaughter and I ventured out to the new front garden that we planted in April to put the finishing touches on it. The gap in the garden where a Japanese maple will live beckons to us. Maisie, at her insistence, is outfitted in boots, gloves, gardening hat, firmly clutching a child-sized trowel and her filled watering can. I have mulch, a big shovel, and a half bag of peat moss. And the Japanese maple.
Maisie immediately squats down and begins to dig. Thankfully she has no idea where the hole for the tree will go. She is conveniently out of my way, earnestly digging a hole in the middle of the garden. The ground is harder than concrete. She looks so cute I have to take her picture. As I am happily clicking away, she looks up, sees what I am doing, and demands, "Are we planting or taking pictures?" Chastened, I begin my hole.

I hear a noise and turn to see what Maisie is doing. I am a little late. She has dug a hole approximately 2 cm deep. Into and near that hole, she has dumped peat moss. A lot. She has then upended the watering can, missing the hole but drenching herself completely. The breeze has blown the peat moss; the creature from the Black Lagoon has nothing on her. She triumphantly cries, "Done." I grab my phone, doubled over with laughter, and capture the peat moss monster. I make a note to show her parents the picture and stick the note in my pocket.

Three months later, the note serves as a reminder to print the Peat Moss Monster. A perfect Christmas present. I write a note to remind myself.

Master Gardener

Sandra DePalma-Odell

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