Home-Grown Fertilizer

How My Best Intentions Destroyed My Pretensions

As a budding gardener, I read somewhere that organic fertilizer is excellent for garden beds and patio pots. In fact, for several years, we had actually purchased manure to compost and enrich our landscape plantings.

We live in horse country. We even have our own horses. We love them passionately, but they can be expensive.

One spring, I decided it was about time for the horses to begin to earn their keep.

A week before Mother’s Day (the popular benchmark for safely planting annuals in the northern half of the US), I approached our barn manager.

“Do you suppose I might dig up some of the rich, dark loamy soil in one of the back pastures?” I asked. “I think it would be great for my summer garden.”

“Knock yerself out,” he offered, as he mucked out a stallion’s stall. “Have at it! Take as much as you want.”

I stuffed my feet into my oversized Wellies, tossed a muck bucket and a shovel into the back of my old Ford pickup, and headed out to collect this most valuable natural resource for my home garden. What a deal! I thought.

Within minutes, I was up to my knees in muddy horse manure. Devoted to the cause, I persisted in piling this pungent planting supply into the bucket. Soon I had a full load, but it was more than I could lift on my own.

Looking up from my task, I noticed that I had gained a small audience. A group of barn hands had ceased their farm tasks and were watching me with great interest. I was not quite sure how to explain my purpose to my curious onlookers.

“Es para mi guardián,” I offered. (“For my garden?”) At least that’s what I meant to say. 

Maybe something was lost in translation. Perhaps I said something risqué by mistake. For whatever reason, they looked at each other and whooped in laughter.

(Later, I discovered that I had actually said, “It’s for my guardian.” No wonder they hooted and chuckled! What grown woman has a guardian?)

However, gentlemen that they were, the men helped me load my overflowing bounty into the back of my truck. As they did, I asked myself: What sort of a gratuity does one offer for assistance in loading animal excrement into the back of a car?

My shame subsided, however, as I headed home. I could already sense my neighbors’ envy. What would they think, when my floral fantasies came true? With such hearty home-grown natural nutrients, I just knew my plantings would surely produce the most spectacular display of color ever seen in the tri-county area.

I carted the stuff home with high hopes.
With passion and purpose, I planted a dozen trays of annuals in my flower beds. Artistically arranging about fifteen multi-hued floral plantings in large terra-cotta patio pots, I hummed a victory song. I could hardly wait to see the results, which could be nothing short of spectacular.

Won’t my neighbors be jealous, when they see my vibrant flowers this year? I said to myself.

Watering with a religious fervor, I waited patiently for the much-anticipated results. Within a couple of weeks, my flowers were filling the clay pots and beginning to bloom. The bright leaves and abundant foliage spilled out over the edges. What a wonder!

However, as a bonus, something else was growing rapidly in my colorful containers.

That year, my colorful and robust garden displays boasted something no one else in my entire neighborhood had:  cornstalks from recycled kernels!

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