Monday, August 23, 2010

I remember, I remember, now I remember.....Sorry Garden Rant, I'm not good under pressure

I have had this vision off and on for more than thirty years. Ever since, actually, I worked for an IGC. Washington, where I live is a city with a lot of turnover. New people come and people go. Many of the new arrivals came from areas of the country where there is soil. Where you could dig a foot or two with two or three spadefulls.

Full of enthusiasm and ideas they came to the Nursery. After a few hours they leave with 30,40,50 plants, soil amendments, mulch, maybe new gloves......I picture them pulling up to their house, eating lunch, unloading the car. They pick up the long-handled spade that worked fine in Minnesota, or Iowa, or Oregon and put foot to shovel. Clang and nothing. Possibly a cloud of apprehension passes over their brow and they try again with a bit more effort.......the shovel doesn't dent the baked clay/subsoil that is to be their garden.  I picture them looking apprehensively around at the plants that had seemed cheered them so a few hours ago.

I don't think builders really scrape topsoil off of new lots and sell it anymore......if they ever did. I do know though, that many houses in the DC Metropolitan Area are surrounded by either subsoil or solid clay. It would have been a good thing for the salespeople at the IGC to have recommended the purchase of a "cutter mattock" and a "digging bar". The Nursry I worked at, and that I still love, didn't ever carry either. There are maybe 10 box stores in the immediate vicinity and maybe each has 6 mattocks and 6 digging bars.

The IGC's want to maintain the illusion that "gardening" doesn't involve manual labor. That it's a "refined" pursuit and gardeners are "special people". Well we are, but we have to do hard work sometimes and to do that we need good tools.

The tools are the worst part of most garden centers. They carry cheap, gaudy, flimsy, completely impractical tools by the hundreds. To deal with the soils we are dealt, we need the digging bar and the mattock. We also need the traditional long-handled spade, hard rake, and leaf rake. As far as small tools are concerned, they ought to carrry the good Union trowel and a Japanese weeding knife. All the cheap trowels are worthless.

I guess what I'm trying to sy is that I wish the IGC's would carry the tools that we need to do what we need to do.

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