Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)
By Beth Muehlhausen
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Got a question.
I want to grow a garden.
I don’t know where to begin. Here I am, retired with time on my hands. But I’m clueless.
What kind of garden?
Well, what do you need?
That’s just it. I need a teacher, I guess.
What do you mean, hmmmmm?
Where can you find a gardening teacher?
I dunno, that’s why I’m asking you.
I’m no gardening teacher.
Obviously, but I had to talk to someone!
Go get a shovel and………
Right. And break my back and grow nothing but weeds. No thanks.
Then go to the library…or go to a store where people do this sort of thing professionally and ask them…or something…
Hello…I was wondering…
Sssshhhh (looks condescendingly over rim of glasses perched on tip of nose) - you know this is a public library and we must keep things quiet.
Oh sure. Sorry. (whispering) I haven’t been to the library since you started using computers instead of the card catalog…so was wondering if you could help me find some books on gardening?
(whispering in return) Go down the left corridor – over there (waves hand indistinctly) until you get to the stacks, then turn right and look for the numbers between 1000 and 6000. They’re in there somewhere.
(whispering) Thank you…I’ll go look.
Ssssssssshhhhhhhh….remember to not talk to anyone.
If I need help, should I….?
Hi there, are you a clerk? Yeah, I want to start a garden to grow food in my back yard, but I need some help.
Were you planning on growing accumbents?
I’m sorry – what was that?
Accumbents – cotyledons having the edges lying against the radicle.
I’d advise you to stay away from barbellate plants, like raspberries, especially if children are around. Fruit is yummy, but they’re too prickly.
Of course. That’s exactly what I was thinking, too. We have grandchildren….
Are you thinking of this garden producing proteinaceous plants?
You know, plants eaten for their protein content….
Ummmmmm…..I think…..well, I’ll be back later. Thank you very much for your….help. Bye-bye now….
Honey, I’m dumb about this stuff, you know that.
Awwwww Mom, just try it. You’ll find everything you need, I promise. Just ask away! Whatever you want to know!
All right then. Here goes nothing.
How do I prepare the soil?
You may choose various ways to prepare your garden, depending on its size and your physical strength and budget. Perhaps hand digging will suffice, or if not a power rotary tiller is sufficient for most gardens. Fall tilling is preferred to spring.
How and when do I plant the seeds?
Read seed catalogs to learn more about what you want to plant and what will grow well in your area. Generally, cool weather crops like spinach and radishes can be planted quite early. In general, plants like tomato, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are best bought from a greenhouse as seedlings unless you plan to start your own from seed indoors 10-12 weeks before planting them outside.
Many seeds can be planted in shallow trenches or holes – as if poking the soil with the end of a pencil. Refer to each seed packet for specific instructions.
Don’t feel you need to plant all the seeds in every packet. Most of the time a back yard garden does not require a huge volume! Determine how many plants you really need and then overshoot by several in case some don’t germinate or die later because of weather or insects. Then save the extra seeds for the following year.
How do I keep weeds out?
Of course there are commercial herbicides. But don’t hesitate to explore organic methods of control. Cultivating the soil is effective as well as laying newspaper at least eight layers thick over the garden and mulching on top of that. Seeds can easily be planted through holes in the newspaper.
(report to resource #1)
I got some really great information…it was reeeeeealy simple, too!
Really? That simple, huh? (looks skeptical)
Yeah! It’s a perfect resource…my daughter talked me into going there…and I can go back anytime day or night with whatever questions come up. I mean now I have millions of lessons about successful gardening right at my fingertips!
You don’t say.
Wanna know who this ultimate teacher is?
Sure. Hit me with it.
My thanks go to…
(sigh) Cut the suspense…
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