Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Don't Let a Successful Garden Soil Your Reputation

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Don't Let a Successful Garden Soil Your Reputation

Article excerpt

On Friday, as the temperature hovered around 90, I headed for one of my local nurseries and poked around the petunias.

"So, what's it gonna be this year?" I wondered out loud, as I strolled through the greenhouse.

In no time flat, two bright red begonias began vying for my attention.

I couldn't decide between them, so I took them both, placing them next to my car before dashing back into the greenhouse for more.

Children and pets may be optional, but a garden is a necessity. I can't imagine a summer without one.

As Thomas Jefferson, one of our esteemed Founding Fathers, once told me, "No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to the garden."

(Mind you, this was before I took Jefferson to see "Hamilton," which he said was "a cultural milestone" and "a whole lot better than that thing with all the cats in it.")

One of the best things about gardens is that you have to give them a certain amount of attention. And this, I believe is good for the soul -- even if it's hard on the back.

And the neck. And the knees.

As the esteemed French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once told me: "Plant and your spouse plants with you. Weed and you weed alone."

About 20 minutes after I arrived at the greenhouse, I left with my begonias, some impatiens, a few marigolds and five pots each of basil and flat-leaf parsley.

"No veggies this year?" Nursery Lady asked.

"I don't know yet," I replied. "I'm still thinking about it."

I love vegetables, but I've had mixed results with them.

When I was 10 or so, I planted cucumber seeds in our backyard in Queens and waited patiently for them to sprout.

I'm still waiting.

The whole experience scarred me for life. Every morning, I'd rush into the yard after breakfast and stare at the dirt, in the futile hope that something -- anything -- had broken through the soil while I was sleeping.

After my family moved to a larger house in 1972, my father got the gardening bug. Our new house was beautiful. But the soil out back was awful. …

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