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Gardening Session


Thank you, doctor, for agreeing to see me on such short notice.”

“Not at all. My pleasure. I had a cancellation and it worked out well.”

“Good. So. Where do I start? Do you want to ask me questions?”

“No, I’d rather have you say whatever is on your mind and we’ll go from there. It’s possible we’ll need more sessions and it’s possible we won’t.”

“Okay … I’m concerned because things are disappearing. Or they never happen. Or they die.”

“Things?”

“Well, plants.”

“Plants.”

“In my yard, yes.”

“Do you like to garden?”

“I thought I did. Now I’m not so sure.”

“Ah.”

“What did you mean by that?”

“I meant ‘ah.’”

“Not ‘aha?’ Just ‘ah?’”

“Yes.”

“Ah.”

“Continue, please.”

“People probably tell you this exact story twenty times a day, but here goes. If I try to grow a plant from seed, the seed will disappear. If I buy it a plant from a garden center, something will dig it up or eat it to the nub or lop it off or mow it down or electrocute it.”

“Electrocute?”

“Or it will starve or drown or just up and die. Does that seem strange to you?”

“Well, many people claim they’re not good at – ”

“If somebody gives me a plant and I put it in my yard, it gets up and moves back into the yard it came from – and sometimes it talks other plants into going along with it.”

“You’re speaking metaphorically?”

“How do you face your kids after something like that happens?”

“I’m not sure I quite – ”

“The birds are definitely in on this. They sit on the phone wires, look down into the yard, shake their little bird heads and say, ‘Unh-uh.’ Then they poop into my iced tea.

“When you say ‘in on this’...”

“They’re amazingly accurate.”

“Have you been able to … ”

“I think the raccoons are in on it, too.”

“You’re using that phrase again.”

“And the squirrels and chipmunks and moles and voles and beetles and spiders and centipedes and millipedes and feral cats and slugs and rats and fungus and slime molds. A couple of stray skunks and maybe a honey badger. And bricks and ball bearings. Definitely the chickens down the block. And kids on bikes. And, I don’t exactly know how, but I think my neighbors are in on it, too. And the president.”

“The president? Of. The. United – ”

“Oh, boy, yes. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.”

“All right. I won’t pretend that.”

“At the risk of sounding paranoid – ”

“no risk at all.”

“I think there’s some kind of conspiracy going on.”

“You don’t say.”

“Nobody could possibly be this unsuccessful as a gardener unless – now pay attention here – unless somebody else or a bunch of somebody elses wanted that to happen. What do you think about that?”

“I think we’re out of time. And I think you should stop and see Sally on the way out and schedule another appointment.”

“I knew you’d get it. By the way, that’s a lovely lucky bamboo you’ve got there.”

“Thank you. Please don’t touch it. At least not until I get honey badger insurance.”

Mike Nowak is an author, speaker, humorist, environmentalist, show host and entertainer. You can follow his exploits at mikenowak.net

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questions

We are first-time gardeners and have planted Brussels sprouts and green and red cabbage that we are trying to grow organically. There are black egg sacs and small green worms eating the leaves. Is there an organic product we can use on the cabbage?

I keep seeing photos of interesting plants I’d like to grow, but they’re labeled zone 6 and I’m in zone 5. What can I do to successfully overwinter these marginal plants? I’d like to try them, but I don’t want to waste my money.

My split-leaf Japanese maple tree is 15 to 20 years old, about 7 feet high and about 10 feet wide. It is overtaking the corner of the yard. Can I trim it, and at what time of the year?

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