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The greenhouse effect

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Crystanomoly by Crystal Caudillo

I was puzzling over seed packets trying to determine what I was doing wrong. Every time my neighbor was working in his garden I felt he was mocking me with its vibrancy, I felt like throwing a rock at him in a fit of jealousy. I knew that my envy wasn’t justification for stoning him; I was simply monumentally exasperated by my horticultural mishaps.

I ran over the procedures he implemented while preparing his garden spot. He fired up the tiller to break the ground. This year it seemed the ground sat for weeks without being tilled and I began to panic. What if he decided not to plant a garden this year? How was I going to spy on him to learn the secrets of his success? The thought was too painful to bear; despite my wanting to stone him.

Derby Day rolled around and the following day dawned with a freshly tilled garden spot next door. It seemed as if he had done it overnight. I was still exhilarated despite my envy. My exhilaration faded a bit when I compared my spot with his. His garden was completely tilled awaiting he arrival of young plants. Lacking a tiller I was preparing my spot “old school” with a shovel, hoe and garden weasel. I had been soldiering along since before Derby Day and had only a quarter finished.

While I dug, shoveled, hoed, weaseled and fumed, he was busily plotting his rows with twine. I was never so methodical with mine. This explained why his stood rank and file with impeccable order and mine looked like the aftermath of an EF-1 tornado.

I considered arranging my rows with twine but I couldn’t recall where I put the twine. Two seasons earlier I attempted to do this and I wound up with an inexplicable dip and curve in contrast to his razor’s edge. Additionally the twine and stakes wound up as a tangled mess which I tossed under a utility table and dismissed from my mind.

In the past I planted seeds only to have them disappear or wash away in a downpour. No matter how many I planted the result was always the same. The promise of opening a bright new package of seeds ended in bitterness and remorse.

My leftover packs of seeds mocked me. I had five packages of squash, three pumpkins, two corn, four onions, three cantaloupes and a bouquet of flowers of all kinds; each and every one representing a failure of summers past which ended in the devastation of Fall. Dead plant pieces littered the ground with no normal produce in sight. The garden spot was home to the withered, the spongy, the stinky and the frightening. My gardening always doomed to failure.

Hope springs eternal and I am no exception. While toying with the idea of another attempt at a garden I had a flash of insight. The only plants I ever had the least bit of success with were seedlings; what my Dad called starts. Could this be the answer? Head starts! Somewhere above my Dad was smiling at me for finally solving this riddle. I rushed to buy all I needed to grow seedlings from my unsuccessful seeds. I didn’t have a sunny spot that wasn’t vulnerable to cats. In my typical “Go big or go home!” manner, I informed my husband that I needed a portable greenhouse. No seeds in windowsills for me! They needed to own real estate.

After a suitable cooling off period my husband determined that I wasn’t going to hare off on another project. He finally gave me the green light for the greenhouse. After a protracted period of online browsing, I picked the greenhouse for me. It arrived two days later and seemed unexpectedly small. I opened it hoping not to be disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed as much as flabbergasted! The box was entirely filled with loose pieces and a large plastic tent-like thing. I removed the pieces noting that they were numbered. Unfortunately some of the pieces were mixed in with others and some were not numbered at all; wonderful.

Hour stretched into hour as I put the pieces together. Sometimes I had to back up and reassemble because I was putting opposite sides together consecutively. I managed to put one side together backwards. Not quite sure how I did that but I did. The pieces dwindled as the frame came together. The closer I came to the end the more it appeared that pieces were missing. The box warned me to make sure all of the pieces were included before assembly. Great; that’s what I get for not listening to the box I checked the frame to be sure that I hadn’t put a piece in the wrong space. By this time I was second-guessing myself so much I had become completely lost.

Right when it appeared that all hope was gone my son appeared like the sun from behind a cloud. He set to work correcting my mistakes with no judgment He continued building the thing and before long, he was finished with the frame.

The next step was the plastic tent thing. Once again my son completed the job in a fraction of the time it would take me. He also did it with an absence of colorful language and curses upon the makers of this infernal device.

At last it was time to find a place to put the greenhouse. My garden spot is on the side of a hill and has no flat area. We carried the greenhouse to an area beside the garden and there it would stay until a better place could be found.

My son retired inside with my heartfelt thanks. I couldn’t resist and resumed searching for the perfect home. I staggered around carrying a plastic house trying different places that looked flat. Once I set the greenhouse down the area turned out to be steeper than the one before. Some sort of strange optical illusion or hoodoo was at work, Flat ground became increasingly bumpy and steep the closer you approached. I soon admitted that the only way to find a flat spot was with a shovel. I took one shovel full of dirt, put it back in the hole and walked away.

A few days later my husband leveled the ground for me. I planted the seedlings in their trays with their domes. Everything was on track for success!

For the next few days the temperature soared .It had become breathless inside the confines of the little plastic house. My little seedlings began to sprout, and then faint. One little trooper held on for a few more days and then fainted for the final time; I think he was a bean; a poor, gallant baby bean. I felt a pang of guilt as I realized the untimely demise of the gallant little baby bean was my fault. I suppose few can survive in a plastic house baking in the relentless sun. The time had come to taking a closer look at growing things greenhouse style; the quest continues.