Sunday, May 25, 2008

School of Gardening

It isn’t very often that my students take an interest in gardening. Oh, sure. Most of them ask me if I can teach them how to grow weed. That isn’t really the same thing but, they wouldn’t be able to succeed in that anyway. The problem is that taking care of plants requires attention, patience, and the kind of mindfulness geared towards caring and protecting rather than impulsively destroying. These are traits that very few of my students ever exhibit. Their lack of these abilities is so severe that even if I were to teach them how to grow something as attractive and desirable as their intoxicants, all but a very small number of them would fail.

As an illustrative example, I have one student now who likes to water the plants in the greenhouse. A few times he filled a bucket of water and dumped large amounts onto the pots washing large amounts of soil out onto the ground. Realizing this wasn’t working, he decided to fill containers holding the pots so full with water that the peat pots the plants were in began to turn to mush and several of the plants died. You see, it was easier to just dump large amounts of water into a large container than it was to carefully pour just a little water into each pot’s plant.

We do have one student now, however, who does seem to have some investment in the garden. He has been involved in most of the plantings and has taken a certain amount of ownership for them. The first few beds he planted had sprouted lettuce and spinach, which had impressed him as a real product of his labor. On a certain day he went into the garden to admire his work and check on its well-being when he discovered something that horrified him. Something had been tearing up his lettuce plants.

He was horribly confused that this could happen and determined that the rabbits must have done it. For some reason he did not quite understand the seedlings had been pulled up and left lying on the ground right in front of where they had so recently been growing. He was confused. What could he do?

Taking a closer look at the scene he noticed that someone else had been there before him and after the rabbit, who had attempted to replant some of the uprooted victims. Desperately he tried to continue this task himself but soon gave up in frustration. There were too many plants and he felt uncertain about the survival of those he attempted to save. Those that remained he left sitting in a ball on the garden bed.

Eventually he came in the house and told me the story. He expressed his desire to kill rabbits for what they had done. Finally, he asked me what could have done such a thing. I answered, “I know exactly what happened to your lettuce. I pulled it up.” The energy in the shocked expression on this enervated pothead face was the joy of my day. I explained, “We need to thin the rows.”