Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Mon, March 25

Column: Have no fear: Growing something good takes time

Tests scare me to death!

So in preparation for a horticulture exam to become an "associate master gardener" for the Mohave County Cooperative Extension program, I spent some quality time studying with classmates who shared my reservations about taking the T-E-S-T. However, the director for the University of Arizona MCCE, "Guru" Robin Grumbles, informed all students that we were not to refer to IT as a TEST. He wanted us to refer to IT as "a non-terrifying comprehensive review." And you know what? It worked! We all passed.

So I succeeded in the classroom, but my field self-training wasn't going so well. I was having trouble growing tomatoes. If it weren't for my friend and guru, "Glori," reminding me of how hard it is to be a good "hoe-er," I wouldn't know if I was paying too much for the crap (I mean manure) that I was putting in my garden.

My dog, Baby Jake, aka "Jake the Wonder Dog," is lucky he's still alive. I caught him red pawed with the crap all over his face, licking the you know what in the you know where. And he killed my tomato plants! So my other half came to my rescue and built a wall around the garden so shamed Baby Jake could remain a part of our family.

Then the winds came and I had to call Guru Gina. She's one of the tomato experts in my class who brought me pictures of her garden. Beautiful pictures that made me sick.

I asked her, "What's the best way to handle the high winds in the desert?" (I had just planted three new tomato plants.) She told me, "Hey, I just get out there, and come hell (she meant heck) or high water, I do whatever it takes to keep the wind from killing my plants."

Gina has used plastic milk jugs and blankets to cover her plants, keeping them all warm and fuzzy inside. When I asked her what was the best way to protect myself from getting beat in the face by the winds and desert dirt (and I mean dirt this time), she said, "I've gone as far as to wear my husband's safety goggles for protection."

Great idea! I thought. So I went to find my other half's safety goggles, but I couldn't find them. I did find his welding mask, but when I put it on my plants became invisible.

By that time the winds had stopped, it was dark outside, my bed was dried up and my plants were looking dead again. (I must remember to return Guru Gina's garden pictures ... or keep them for revenge - I mean as souvenirs.)

The next day, I realized it wasn't the wind that had battered my plants, and it wasn't the Wonder Dog. I had too much manure in my garden, and it had burned up my plants! Why?

Manure has sodium in it, and, dumb me, I didn't read the label. If you put too much crap on a good thing, the good thing becomes crap too. (Thank goodness this was not on our non-terrifying comprehensive review.)

When I went back to tell my classmates of my tomato saga, another nice classmate, "Guru Robin II" (not to be confused with Guru Robin I) blurted out "Don't worry ... I brought you some more!"

She had also brought pictures of her garden (prior to me seeing Guru Gina's you-make-me-sick-pictures) and I didn't hesitate to tell her how her pictures made me feel when I first looked at them ... sick - sick - sick!

Then I realized what was really happening in the back of the classroom. Guru Robin II had brought in many beautiful tomato plants, complete with little Popsicle stick descriptions, and was giving them away to all of us for FREE! (...show off...) At first, when I read the stick, "Mule Team," I thought she was making fun of me. Then I saw one that read, "Mortgage Lifter." Another one said, "Royal Hill Billy," and that, I knew right away, was the one I would take home.

Most classmates took one or two plants, but there were many left over, so Guru Robin (show off) said I could take all three. Well, if "third time's a charm," then I'm on my way to becoming a "master" at something.

Right now, those three beautiful tomato plants have been replanted into my new garden, and Guru Robin is standing by to give me more just in case these don't make it.

It amazes me how many caring people there are in this community I call home. So what do I have to fear?

Over the last 14 weeks of taking this fun learning gardening class at MCC (just for the fun of it), a few things have occurred to me that keep me from fearing the concept of growing something good:

One, I missed my calling as a lawyer or senator ... but I did land my first column on the same May 5 opinion page as a county supervisor and a governor. (I mean "close but no cigar");

Two, I have met many nice gurus who have banded together to help me overcome certain fears of living in a desert; and,

Three, world peace may be easier to achieve than a tomato garden worth showing off pictures of. But at least I have souvenirs.

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