By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe

It’s hard to believe, but some people can actually afford a place with a little bit of land. Most of them just grow grass, but a rare few try to grow something else. Pot. Opium. Cocaine. Beets. But we’re not talking about them. We’re talking about the people who grow other, non-fucking-you-up stuff. They call these places of growing Gardens. Gardens can be full of flowers, which are pretty and quickly die, or vegetables, which are cheaper at the store but take a lot of work and probably won’t come up or will get eaten by bugs and slugs and deer and squirrels. Especially squirrels.

Gardens need three elements to grow. Seeds. Nutrients. Water. Love. Probably some gloves and tools and stuff. So that’s like five things? We got lost there.

You’ve got the love. So much love that no one wants anything to do with, just wasting away, withering on the vine. You just need some seeds and stuff.

The first thing you need to do is seriously overcommit at the gardening center. Sure, you’ve never managed to keep anything alive more than…well, usually the ride home — but this is going to be your year. Before this, everything you love died, or took out a restraining order—but that was all because you didn’t have enough stuff. So. You’re going to need a buttload of seeds, some already potted plants, some cut pots, um, some random stuff you saw as you were gathering all of this up. Fertilizer? Probably. Maybe some statues of owls or something. Put it all in the cart. Get a second cart. Everything in your life might be falling apart, but THIS ONE THING IS GOING TO WORK GODDAMMIT.

Also, now you’re not allowed back in that Lowe’s. But that’s okay. You left a message with your therapist’s answering service, and she’ll probably get back to you soon. Time to get busy planting. And from the soil of your endeavors a new life — your own — will be born. With Demeter as your witness, you will be reborn a better human being! (Pay no attention to the guy in the parking lot who’s staring at you because you just said all of that out loud.)

Load everything up in your Subaru and get it on home. Did you remember gloves? Of course you did! You bought everything they had. You maxed out your credit card, but it will be worth it when your glorious garden grows and you become the you you’ve always wanted to be but were afraid to become HAROLD YOU PRICK I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU LEFT ME FOR THAT SLUT SHEILA.

That’s not fair. You know — or thought you knew — Sheila. She’s not that bright, but she’s not a horrible person. Her and her fake…whatevers. Let us not forget who is to blame, here. HAROLD. Harold is to blame. THAT RAT BASTARD.

But enough about that. What’s past is past. Unless what’s past is prologue. But never mind that artsy shit. Time to get planting.

Get your gloves and your trowel out. Time to dig into that dirt. The dirt of your failed, pathetic life. With the trowel of, uhm, your good intentions? Sure, that works. Wearing the Gloves of Hope and Renewal.

But first, you’ve got to decide where to put your garden. Most people pick some sunny spot in the backyard. This is a rookie mistake. Sure, plants like the sun, we’ve heard, but the sun also makes you sweat. And the backyard is pretty far out. You’re going to have to go all the way out there to dig in the dirt and ultimately get like 3 cherry tomatoes and a mutant cucumber from it.

Screw that. Look inside your house — where it’s air-conditioned — for an unused plot. Maybe the living room. There’s some carpet you aren’t using. Time to go raised bed on this project. A raised bed requires a firm foundation, sturdy planking to build up the sides, and a hydraulic lift to raise the whole thing toward a lightning storm to instill the spark of life.

Do you have any of this stuff? You do not. Although you bought everything at the garden center, you didn’t buy *everything* everything. This is when you realize why it’s called a garden center rather than a garden store. It’s because it is now the complete center of your existence, filling your days the way you filled your shopping basket with bone meal, peat moss, miracle gro, and manure. So it’s back you go.

Luckily, the garden center carnies see you coming and load up a flatbed truck with all the construction materials and tons of topsoil you’ll need for a proper raised bed.

When the delivery persons refuse to carry 500 pounds of topsoil through your kitchen and into your living room, you know it’s time to rethink the indoor green acres you were pinning your hopes on. FINE. You’ll brave the outdoors. WHY EVEN HAVE HOUSES?

You look over the piles of planks, and connectors, the raised bed thingees now dumped in your backyard space. And then there’s the piles and piles of 50 pound bags of soil, compost, mulch, humus, moss, perlite, fertilizer, soil, manure, and manure. Phew. It’s time for a cocktail.

Fortified, you’re ready to confront and conquer nature. Specifically the four foot square in your back “yard” allotted to you by the developers who built your house and every other house for 20 or 30 miles around. You construct the raised bed, fill it with a mixture of topsoil and other components, work them together and aerate them to form a rich amalgamate, which you watched three videos about and still don’t know what it means, then smooth out the surface to be ready for planting.

OR you rip open the body bags full of topsoil, bottomsoil, nightsoil, and all the other kinds of dirt you bought, ignore the incomprehensible raised bed kit and the videos, and hack away at everything with a shovel, and mix the plastic bag debris in with the manure, just as nature intended. It’s time for another drinky-poo.

It’s true that The Planting sounds like the title to a movie about alien parasites invading earth and impregnating men with giant telepathic worms that hatch into nine foot tall tall praying mantises. However, it’s also the next step in your journey to gardenhood. You look at the seed packets you picked out: Aconitum, Agapanthus, Ageratum houstonianum, Alchemilla, Allium roseum, Alstroemeria, Angelonia, Antirrhinum majus, Aquilegia, Asclepias syriaca, Astilbe, Astrantia, Aubreita deltoidea. Reading all that sure made you thirsty.

Perhaps you shouldn’t have grabbed the first bunch of packets closest to your hand. Maybe something from further down the alphabet would have been nice. Like everything else in you life, too late. Luckily, you were more judicious in selecting the 10 or so flats of seedlings you now also have, using the criteria of what the plants — in the little pictures on sticks stuck in the pots — looked the most appetizing, the most colorful, or were incredibly large. Pumpkins. Sunflowers. Now, at home, the buzz of purchase has worn off, and you read the back of these seedling instructions. Each different kind of seedling and seed needs to be planted at a different depth and spaced apart at different lengths, 1 inch, 4 inches, 6 inches and so on. But you also know from your extensive and trustworthy googling knowledge that these instructions leave out a lot. For example, that you must plant at midnight during a full moon while naked and covered in olive oil. Or that you have to walk backwards away from the garden after planting to prevent the Evil One from withering your loins. Also, you’re not sure what “widdershins” are but apparently they are to be avoided. Time for tee many martoonies.

Probably the best thing to do is just dump it all in the ground and let nature sort it out. If the plants are too weak to survive, whose fault is that? Certainly not yours. Also, it’s been about fifteen minutes since you had a drink, so dump everything in a hole and head back inside.

Boy, who knew gardening had some many steps, or was so hot and exhausting? Or left you so dizzy and woozy? Time for some more research and pitcher of something cool and refreshing, maybe with a little sting in it, eh?

Unfortunately, for research you look up garden pests. What the actual fuck? Apparently there’s entire phylum of pancrustean hexapod invertebrates whose sole existence is dedicated to eating everything in the world down to the ground, then the ground, too. These…things suck sap like plant Draculas, tunnel through roots, chew leaves, get plants hooked on crack cocaine, sell them questionable real estate in Florida, make up news reports about pedophile rings among gardeners. You name it. The upside is you can combat this barbarian horde of squishy, hideous antenna-demons by going back to the garden center and spending twice the amount you have already spent on dust, sprays, coats, sprinkles, soaks and other forms of chemical warfare that will maybe provide mild discouragement to all garden pests until they can build up an immunity and come back and kill everything you hold dear. For the moment, however, your credit card is still maxed out, which seriously limits your choices. You stand up. The room starts spinning, your eyes can’t seem to focus…

At some point, you wake up, realizing you’ve passed out and have been having a nightmare. You find yourself lying on your kitchen floor, sobbing. You have a good heart. You know you do. But nobody else seems to appreciate it. Or your butt, which isn’t perfect but isn’t the worst in the world. To deal with this, you pass out again, and wake in the morning, surrounded by empty pints of Double Cookie Crumble Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream you don’t remember buying. As your pancreas goes into high gear to pump out enough insulin to counteract a bit of spiking hyperglycemia, you decide to be brave, venture outside, and see the damage.

We cannot urge you against this strongly enough. But surely, you think…and here we interrupt you with a raised hand. The answer is a hard No. The best thing to do is cover any outward-facing windows with black trash bags and never venture into the backyard again. You planted the garden, you’re almost sure of it. You watched videos, and googled all the made up advice, spent a lot of money, and — well — really committed, so it must be nice. There’s no need to test that theory by looking at out the window, opening the door, or going outside. Here’s an idea: have a drink and relax. There’s a good movie on TV. Day of the Triffids. Sounds promising.

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