‘Gardening gone wrong’ stories from over the years
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Jan 16, 2013 | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most gardeners have some pretty hairy horror stories to tell if asked. I am no exception. Through the years, my long-suffering husband was involved in many of my accidents or “gardening gone wrongs”.

When first married, my husband decided, as many young husbands do, that he would not tolerate flower beds around the yard and he made this pronouncement with vigor. He didn’t want anything to get in his way when he mowed the grass. Now, since I am my Ma’s protégé and was taught gardening by her, I said, in Ma’s quiet voice, “Don’t you dare tell me that I can’t plant flowers in my own yard”. In a very conciliatory voice, he told me that it would be OK with him if I planted flowers if they were in beds. And that ended that.

At other times I was less successful. The case I have in mind concerned Uncle Aubrey’s chicken house. During a Sunday afternoon visit, he showed me his chicken house and told me I could have all the chicken manure I wanted if I would come get it. My dear husband heard that and said, “Not in my car”. It happened that we had a new Oldsmobile Cutlass with wire wheels, a very sporty car indeed. I waited till the following week, when I had no tattletales around, to get buckets and coal scuttles and go for the manure. On the way home, I had a near accident, slammed the brakes, and over went all the containers. Chicken manure all over the trunk space. Thinking fast, I grabbed the new vacuum cleaner and cleaned up all I could. Then I washed the trunk out, again as best I could. I needn’t have worried about tattletales, the odor told it all. That man was SO mad. Not only did I ruin the trunk of the prettiest car we ever owned but I ruined the vacuum cleaner as well. He never forgot that one.

Another tale of manure: a friend at work raised sheep for the wool to card and make into things to sell. She offered to give me some big bags of sheep manure. I first said, “No, thanks. I would get into lots of trouble”. She said she would double bag it and tie the bags tightly. I wanted that manure so badly to work into my new flower beds at our brand new house in Bloomington, Indiana. I rushed home, spread the manure on the beds and put the sack in the garbage and thought, “Well done!”. After it had rained for a few days and the sun came out and warmed up the soil, we took our lawn chairs and sat out in the shade beside some flower beds between our house and the neighbor’s. He kept sniffing and I knew why. That manure sure did smell. He finally said that he was going to the neighbor and give him a piece of his mind for not keeping his garbage can clean and that it smelled to high heaven. Confession time. I had no choice.

My husband was a very kind, gentle man and rarely said a cross word to me but he sure was provoked. One spring, I wanted to repot some houseplants but I thought it would be much cheaper to use the really rich soil in our back yard. The problem was that I needed the soil to be sterilized to kill insects, etc. Again, thinking for a minute, I decided to put some soil in a big pan and put it in the oven for an hour at a high temperature to kill all the insect eggs and weed seeds. I had read about that somewhere. Folks, it really does work. However, it does smell terrible. When my husband came home, he asked what in the world I was cooking that stank so bad. You would think that the odor would have been gone by the time he got home but not so. And not for days. I hated to turn that oven on for many weeks. In case you are wondering, it is far cheaper to just buy the soil.

Another time, my friend called me to tell me she was cleaning her freezer and had a lot of fish to throw away. She knew I had said that fish, planted under a rose, would really work wonders on the rose. I gladly went out and got the fish. There was lots of fish. I planted one under each rose bush and some under other perennials. I went out one day to check my roses and found them mostly dug up. Our fine bird dog, Keeper, had dug the rotted fish up and eaten them. You have never smelled such an odor, both on Keeper and in the rose bed. I replanted the roses but it took a long time to bathe Keeper and get rid of the smell. In fact, it took many baths. He was a house pet, after all, and it was a smelly situation all around.

Then there was the case of the electric hedge trimmers which I was told not to use because they were too dangerous and I would cut my hand off. How silly. I got the trimmers, plugged them in and promptly cut the cord in two, blowing fuses, scaring both of us half to death. And no I couldn’t use the hedge trimmers. I promptly bought some non-electric hedge trimmers and all was well.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 or write to Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.
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