The World’s Worst Gardener Reveals His Secrets to Success

Achieving the pinnacle of success in any endeavor demands dedication and sacrifice. You have to keep your “eye on the ball,” or in my case, “eye on the squash.” And if I ever manage to actually grow a squash, even one the size of a golf ball, I’m definitely keeping my eye on it. Needless to say, the competition for World’s Worst Gardener is fierce. While the number of gardeners in the United States has diminished over the last few decades, it remains popular. The last US census determined the current number of gardeners stands at 13. I’m one of them, so there are apparently another 12.  I think they live just outside Akron. The census also found that 99.8% of the public grimaced at the thought of getting dirt under their nails and reported that in lieu of gardening, they shopped at Whole Foods 9-14 times per week. They gravitate toward the organic produce section. I’m not saying the vegetables there are expensive, but these people spend the bulk of their time pondering whether to buy a quarter pound of kohlrabi, or a vacation home in the Hamptons – one with a pool.

The Shame of the Squash

Before you consider challenging me for my title, please take time to reflect on one of the challenges inherent in holding this position. I refer to this as, “The Shame of the Squash.” Every year, approximately 20 minutes after the growing season begins, fellow office workers start showing up with gunny sacks brimming with squash. At times, more than a metric ton of squash is piled up in the break room – signs propped next to it begging folks to take it. The proud gardeners ceaselessly yammer on about their backbreaking efforts to harvest the tsunami of squash spilling from their gardens, and their gardening prowess in general (Tomatoes are a popular bragging topic). I am relegated to sitting quietly, listening to their lightly veiled jabs at my agricultural insufficiencies. Little do these rubes know of the difficulty and extreme effort required to retain my title. For the benefit of those brown thumbs who wish to compete with me,  and for posterity, I will now, for the first time, reveal my Secrets to Success:

  1. The first sunny day in February, get really excited about planting a garden. Then, because it’s still technically what is commonly referred to as “The Middle of Winter,” Google, “When can I start planting my garden?” Google then tells you, for the millionth February in a row, that you have to wait until there is no further danger of a freeze. Google suggests that you either buy each of your little seedlings a tiny fur-lined jacket or hold off. Because you can’t afford a vacation home in the Hamptons, even one without a pool, and you’re afraid of PETA, you wait with much depressed frustration.
  2. In mid-July, suddenly remember that you forgot to plant your garden and do so immediately, with much fanfare and heaps of chicken manure, and whatever other manures you enjoy shoveling.
  3. Water your garden thoroughly at the time of planting. Soak it to the ratio of three parts water to one part dirt (picture “dirt soup”). Then forget to water it again. Period. Then, after you remember that you haven’t watered your garden for five weeks, remind yourself that plants have grown unattended for eons, and you’re sure nature will take its course. (Later, you will realized you got an F in this course).

Good luck. I have to go examine my squash. I’m afraid the 12 people in Akron are gaining on me.

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