So about two weeks ago, my greenhouse was delivered. It is the cradle of our organic gardening project and hopefully a tool to help increase our self-sufficiency and decrease our impact on the environment.
The day it arrived, I assembled the greenhouse and set up the shelving. I hooked up the seed-warming pad and the grow light system (wonder how long it will take the cops to pay me a visit to see what I’m growing?). I planted about a thousand culinary herb and vegetable seeds.
Everything was going well, better than expected actually.
As Harrison Ford pointed out in Indiana Jones andThe Last Crusade, “that’s when the bottom usually drops out from under you.”
I’ve never actually used the following words in an article before, but in this case, they’re appropriate . . .
It was a dark and stormy night. I could hear the 22 mph wind howling outside and it was forecast to get worse come sunup, gusting to 28 mph.
All night I tossed and turned, this was the first test for the new greenhouse. I put it together according to the instructions, which I did actually read after I got really stuck and had something that looked like a tepee with wings.
Earlier in the evening, my son wanted to sleep in the new greenhouse. I played along, we took our sleeping bags out there, he brought his canteen and his pillow. I read him stories. He got very sleepy and the wind got stronger, scarier. He begged to go in the house.
It’s a good thing we didn’t sleep in the greenhouse that night.
After rocking and swaying for many hours, the greenhouse finally buckled to a huge gust just before 8 a.m. I hadn’t had a chance to anchor it to the ground yet and the whole contraption got picked up and laid back down about eight inches west of where it started out. That in itself wouldn’t have been a problem if it hadn’t knocked all my shelving over — and the seed containers on top of the shelving.
I heard a crash and ran for the door to view the wreckage from the second-story landing. Through the opaque greenhouse walls I could see that everything was not where I left it. Part of me didn’t want to look, but I had to.
Warily I unzipped the door to find a scattered mess of shelving, dirt, seeds, tools, broken clay pots and worst of all, a shattered Scooby-Doo Chia Pet.
All the seeds I’d planted were out of the containers and mixed together on the ground. My son and I hugged each other and had a good cry — me for the mess and the broken dream, my son for the irreparable Chia Pet.
He soon went with his dad for a visit and I had an even bigger cry, the kind you can only have when your small child is not around. Part of me wanted to light a torch to the whole thing and watch it burn, I didn’t have the time or the energy to clean up the mess and start from scratch.
So I did what any other self-respecting, overwhelmed working mom would do in this situation . . . I went in the apartment and made a strong pot of coffee.
I turned on CNN to put my particular disaster into perspective. Sarah Palin was on the tube. Yeah, my troubles are miniscule compared to our nation’s woes. Turned off the television, didn’t need the disgust on top of the disappointment.
Toasted a bagel, extra butter.
Wallowed in my own self-pity on my Facebook wall and sopped up all the sympathy from my very kind friends. Then I worked the whole day, trying not to think about the mess. I devised a plan to fill plastic containers with a some gravel, a couple of inches of good potting mix and then to put all the dirt-seed mixture in a layer of about 1/2 inch, water it and see what comes up.
I even thought up a name for my innovative technique — buckshot gardening.
That evening, I made another pot of coffee, took two Aleve, put on some good music — a shuffle of Santana, James Taylor, Paul Simon and Stevie Nicks — and got to work.
It took about six hours, including a one-hour dinner break when I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on Netflix and rested my weary bones, but I got it done. All cleaned up, seed and dirt mixture replanted in the containers. Shelving put back together and this time cable-tie wrapped to the support poles on the sides of the greenhouse and to the other shelves. The coffee gave way to a bottle of cheap, Italian red wine, which made the whole day seem not so bad.
Now I check the weather and if winds above 15 mph are predicted, all the containers with seed and dirt go on the ground for the night, or for the day if I’ll be away from home.
The one ray of hope is that some of my son’s broccoli seeds had already sprouted and had stood firm in their compartments in the soil. They continue to grow today and just about everything in the “mystery bins” has sprouted and is doing well. I have no idea what any of it is and won’t until it gets a little bigger, but it’s all growing in a random sort of way.
When peace and harmony were restored, it made me appreciate my greenhouse all the more.
Next time . . . the early worm gets the garbage!