August was bad for me and my garden. It was miserably hot and humid. Early in the month I lost my corn crop to corn borers, pulled up gasping tomato plants, and left the beans and peppers to struggle on alone.
I abandoned them throughout all of September until the Friday morning before our monthly community garden meeting. I wanted to start fresh for the fall crop plus not look like the totally neglectful gardener I was. I harvested a mini-mountain of peppers, a meal’s worth of beans, then yanked out the plants. I pulled out the old irrigation tape because it was dried to the cracking point and nibbled on by settlers of the new mouse village.
Saturday morning, during a quick walk-through with a community gardening expert, I learned that (1) tilling the soil (2) dumping in bags of steer manure and (3) tilling the soil again would be the best next steps.
I pondered schlepping seven heavy bags of manure from store to car to garden in 100-degree heat, then hand-digging them in. Then pondered how I could get the soil ready in time to plant without me keeling over.
First lesson: Community gardening is a great thing. The mom, dad and two kids with the plot next to me were also pulling out their plants and preparing to till. Except at least one of them knew how to run the gas tiller available to all of us. I must have looked rather pathetic sweatily poking at my plot because the woman politely suggested that her husband could till my plot after he did theirs. Yes!
The tiller wouldn’t start so the husband said he’d go to Ace Hardware to buy a spark plug. Again, wife to the rescue. “Why don’t you go with him and buy your steer manure so we can till that in too?”
I kinda wanted to throw in the trowel and go take a shower. But I’m a trooper, albeit an old and out of shape trooper, so even though I was exhausted and melting I said YES!
On to Ace with neighbor-husband and tiller. While he spent time with a clerk figuring out which spark plug to buy, then putting it in the tiller to test, I asked the cashier for seven bags of steer manure so I could start lugging it out to the van.
Second lesson: Always go to Ace, not one of those giant box stores. A very pleasant clerk went and got the bags, wheeled them to the van, and loaded them for me.
Then the entire plot neighbor family helped carry them to my garden and till them in.
For someone who isn’t used to asking for help, getting so much of it in one morning was wonderful. There’s definitely more to this gardening thing than just vegetables.