"Poppa, poppa, can I help you plant your garden? Huh, can I poppa?" Bob asked as I decided it was late enough and I could plant a few veggies in a small garden plot out in front of the shed.
"Yes, Bob, when I get ready you can help me," I replied hoping he would get busy and forget about it. "Bob I will call you when I am ready but now I have some preparation to take care of, OK?"
"What is preparation for day, huh, what are you preparing for, huh dad?" He looked up at me as the normal six year old would and do.
"Well son, I have to move the cross ties and then move some cinderblock and spread some top soil, some peat moss, some cow manure and add some pearlite to the mixture and rake it down, then we will be ready to plant our garden."
"Cow manure, yucks, yuuuuk!"
He stuck his hands out and shook his feet. "Cow manure!" Then he looked at me, "What is pearlite dad and why use moss, it is pretty, remember the moss we found up in Washington?"
"This is processed cow manure Bob, it doesn't stink and mess up your shoes like the real stuff, and it makes things grow, cow manure is a fertilizer." That was the best explanation I could give.
"You didn't tell me about pearlite dad, what is pearlite and will it make watermelons grow?" Again looking up with that puzzled look on his face.
"Pearlite, son, is some little white beads of stuff which absorb water and help keep the moisture in the ground so the vegetables will grow."
He looked at me and I could see the wheels a turning, and finally he opened his mouth; "Dad could I take that stuff and dump it in the bathtub and it would just soak all the water up?"
Then a light went on, "Dad we could take pearlite and put it on the T ball field when it rains and then they wouldn't have to cancel the game, couldn't they dad, huh, couldn't they?"
"But if you put all that in the bath tub, what would you do with it, it wouldn't go down the drain and you couldn't get in the bath tub?" My wife had been listening to our conversation and grinning for she had this small quizmaster around her all day.
"Bob, son, will you come and help mom sort the clothes, you are a good clothes sorter," she said, as she started downstairs to do some laundry.
"Sure mom, sure I will help you, I am good at sorting the clothes, I am good at that," he said and off he went at full tilt, obviously forgetting about the garden and pearlite.
I put my cap and old jacket on and looked out where I had made my garden. First let me tell you something, when I was a child, my poppa had a big garden, and as usual back then at the end of the Depression, people raised big gardens and they canned, and put up as much as they could, because if they didn't they would go hungry. My poppa took great pride in his garden, and to him a 20-bushel potato crop was horrible, for we would most likely starve by spring, but a 40-bushel crop was about right. And poppa took great pride in his garden. The only thing wrong was poppa worked away from home most of the time and he left either late Sunday or very, very early on Monday morning to go to work and he got home late on Friday night. And to poppa sleeping in was sleeping till five or heaven forbid maybe till five-thirty. Well the first thing poppa did was to build a fire in the cook stove in the kitchen and then go out and check his garden. If it was to his liking, fine but if it was not to his liking, I would feel someone shaking me, "Son, the garden did get hoed, and I told you to stake the tomatoes," he would say and I was up, put my clothes on and then when I finished hoeing or staking to poppa's satisfaction, " I could go in for breakfast.
So you can see why I disliked gardens and after I grew up and left home, I only planted one garden, in Laramie, and I worked myself silly and got nothing. One year was enough. But latterly I had been planting some tomatoes and peppers and carrots in five gallon buckets. And this year I made me a small garden area and thought I would try again for small ones would enjoy seeing stuff grown.
I mosey out and check my fence, some old railroad ties on the north side toward the shed and cinderblock on the south side. I haul dirt and spread the condiments, working slowly and listening to the variety of birds singing and of course waving to ever vehicle, which drives up and down the lane. Finally I get the condiments as I call them spread and then I take a shovel and start turning the mixture over so it will, not blend but mix up some. I tried raking and that did not work, so slowly spade-by-spade I turned it over then raked it smooth. By the time I was finished, to be honest I was sort of tire so I looked at my watch and thought hmmmmmmmm, twenty to twelve, about long enough for a cup of coffee before lunch time.
I went in and did not see Bob; "Where's Bob," I asked my wife.
"Oh he is sorting buttons, I was folding clothes and found a button missing so he is my button sleuth, and for the lat 45 minutes, he has been playing with the jar of buttons." My wife smiled and looked at me. "I have the lost button right here," she said as she pulled a button out of her shirt pocket.
"Think I will have a cup of coffee before lunch, my excuse to rest." I said, "Want one?" The wife said no. I made my coffee and was sitting at the table when I heard a big crash in the basement I jumped up.
"Oh I will get it," the wife said, as she started down stairs, "Bob, Bob, you OK?" she said as she went down the steps. In a few minutes I heard the vacuum cleaner running.
In about ten minutes she was back upstairs with Bob, "He had sorted all the buttons by Bob's method then when he jumped up to go potty he knocked them all over the floor."
"What was the vacuum for?" I asked.
"Oh on the inlet to the vacuum, you put a piece of panty hose and the buttons stop there so all you have to do is to unhook the hose and you have all of the buttons. Works great." I shook my head, the things my wife came up with to help out.
After lunch was over, "Bob time to plant the garden," I said and he quickly grabbed his cap and jacket.
"Lets plant the garden dad, I will help you plant the garden," so I picked the seed packets and we headed outside.
Bob walked over to the small plot and walked into the middle of it, "What do we plant dad?"
"Bob get out of the garden, first we have to lay out our rows then decide what to plant where." I explained.
"Now first we must lay out our row, how many rows we need Bob?" I asked.
"Forty-three dad, forty-three rows should do it," and this is for a ten foot wide plot.
"What about six, you think six row will be enough?" I asked.
"Sure dad we can do it with six rows," and so I get the string out and we lay out six rows, I stretch a piece of string from one end to the other, pull it taunt, then nail it down on each end.
I lay the seeds out and pick up a package of lettuce seed, "The lettuce will feed the rabbits, they like good tender lettuce," I saw as Bob watches me slowly try to place the seeds in a nice uniform line. "What you think we should plant next?" I ask, as Bob is looking at the seeds.
"Pumpkins dad. Punkins for a jack-o-lantern," Bob quickly replies.
"Well we have to put them in hills, a couple seeds in each hill." I put my gloves on and kneel down, and start raking dirt into hills, three or four should do it. When I am done I see Bob with all the seed packages.
"Bob what did you do?" I asked in amazement as I look and he has taken all the packages of seed, opened then and dumped them into a can and is strewing the seeds helter skelter.
"Helping dad, helping, I am saving your back, by planting all the seeds for you. We are going to have a good garden aren't we day?" He says as he finishes strewing twelve packages of seed around.
I start to scream but then I laugh, and finish planting the pumpkin seed in the hills, then I take the remaining half package and hand it to Bob, "Better plant these too Bob, you really have the knack for planting." I laugh as I arise, and get my rake and start lightly raking the whole bed, hoping I get the seeds covered.
Bob takes the pumpkin seeds and flings them about, "There dad, we have planted the garden and I have helped!"
I shake my head and decided I will water after Bob goes inside or is busy with another job. Then I look down at my strings, which were to delineate the rows, and shake my head, laughing all the time.
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