Having recently watched several television shows on gardening, I am now ready to renew the earth, plant seeds, and produce a bumper crop of blisters. I feel compelled to share my expertise, real or imagined, and educate the novice gardener on how to get second-degree sunburn.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh earth to quicken the blood of a gardener. However, first you must choose an appropriate location in the back yard, preferably in a place not yet discovered by rabbits. (If I seem short on advice here, it is because Iíve learned from past experience to hire a professional with a soil tiller and thereby avoid dislocated vertebra.)
If you are a beginner, (Thatís alright as we were all beginners at sometime.) I suggest purchasing a book on gardening.† These are available at book stores, garage sales, lemonade stands, or almost anywhere except garden centers, which remain perpetually sold out.
Follow the book carefully.† If it says plant seeds six inches apart, use a ruler. If it says to use fertilizer, search until you find the correct mix. If it says to plant on the fifth Friday of the month during the light of the moon, donít even consider defiance.
After planting comes the hardest part Ė the wait.†
If nature favors you with rain, (instead of good teeth and amiable personality) eventually tiny sprouts will emerge.† The more you water, the larger the plants become.† Why not?† You did everything by the book.
Be prepared to give up weekends as they will be consumed by the garden.† As the vegetables grow, so do the weeds. Forget about your bruised knees and aching back. Concentrate on eluding angry wasps and planning clever strategies for potential garden snake encounters.
Insects love a garden. Each plant attracts a pest of its very own -- cutworms on the tomatoes, beetles on the potatoes, moths on the cabbage, and aphids frolicking shamelessly in the melon patch.†††
Tomatoes always ripen first.† You must eat, cook and learn to juggle with tomatoes.† You can give tomatoes to neighbors by the bucketful, until they pull their blinds and lock the door. If you are lucky, crows will eat the corn, leaving you time to fight bumblebees in the pole beans, and wipe sweat from your brow.
Beware of zucchini.† One day you have blossoms, the next day zucchini the size of watermelons.† You may have to roll them to the kitchen.† You cannot sleep at night as zucchini vines will grow and cover your house.
You will find that by the time you buy plants, seed, fertilizer, insecticides, tools to garden with, and books to tell you how, gardening doesnít save money. Also, it isnít nearly as much fun as you anticipated, and, unexplainably, you will lose your taste for fresh vegetables.
Regardless, you have learned the most important lesson there is to know about gardening -- leave agriculture to the farmers and buy your vegetables at the supermarket like I do.†