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Wish list

“We can’t plant stuff in the ground,” I said.

“Eugenia,” Steve said. He only uses my full name when he’s very, very serious. “There is no reason why not.”

“If something is in a pot and it dies, it’s very easy to just pull it up and either hide the pot or put something else in the pot,” I said. “Plus, planting in the ground involves digging up the yard.”

“Randy said it was OK,” he said. “Besides, think about everything you want to plant. It’s too much for pots.”

“Totally untrue,” I said. “Tomatoes are fine in pots. Sage, mint, basil, parsley—all fine in pots. We could even do zucchini in a pot, I bet, as long as it’s a big pot.”

But Steve was adamant. He abandoned his half-empty dinner plate and stepped to the white board on our refrigerator. “What do we want to plant?”

Parsley. Basil. Chili pepper. Big tomato. Zucchini. He scrawled them all in a list on the whiteboard.

“Corn,” he said. “I want one giant stalk of corn.”

“We can’t grow corn!”

“We’re in Iowa.”

He added Corn (1) to the list.

“Now,” he said. “We need a digging thing.”

“I bought a trowel at Hy-Vee.”

Steve stopped and stared at me. “A trowel? Genie, we’re going to need a shovel.”

“Could we use a snow shovel? There’s a snow shovel downstairs.” Even as I said it, I knew the suggestion would be rejected outright. He wrote Digging thing on the whiteboard.

“We need topsoil,” he said. “We can get that at a garden center.”

“Or at Paul’s Discount!” I said, thrilled to actually be able to contribute some useful information to the plan. Paul’s Discount is a weird little store at the edge of Iowa City that sells a conglomeration of everything from household goods to auto supplies, all bought in random quantities at great discount and sold to consumers willing to suffer uneven inventory for a bargain. I had noticed giant pallets of what appeared to be garden-related dirt had arrived a few days earlier. Soil/Paul’s discount store on Rt. 1 went on the board.

“You know who we should call?” Steve named our friends Maggie and Heal, who, of all our friends in town, are the most in touch with all things garden- and vegetable-related. They are also friendly, and tolerant of people in need of guidance. He lunged for the phone and dialed. After a moment, he explained—loudly and with purpose—our gardening venture to their answering machine, then hung up. “They’ll help. They know what they’re doing.”

This, of course, was more than could be said for us. But I have to admit, I was relieved by the thought of borrowing, rather than buying, equipment. At that point, I still wanted to stick to container gardening, so the thought of actually investing in our own shovel seemed like, well, too much of a commitment for me.

10 Comments on “Wish list”

  1. #1 farmgirl
    on May 11th, 2006 at 9:02 am

    LOLOLOL I loved reading this! Linked here from the nice comment you left on my kitchen garden blog (which also had me laughing). Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    P.S. You’re going to need a hoe, too.

    P.P.S. And some other stuff. : )

  2. #2 Peg
    on May 11th, 2006 at 9:53 am


    You always make me laugh! Farmgirl is right, you WILL need a hoe (and some other digging things) Too bad we aren’t closer, Jim could come with a tiller, and help you plant. He’s going to plant our sweet corn today.

    Keep writing, I’m loving this.

  3. #3 inadvertentgardener
    on May 11th, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Next thing I know, you guys are going to be telling me I need to learn how to compost!

    It's all good…I know we probably need some more equipment…and I am learning, really. I swear.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    :-) Genie

  4. #4 Jeanne
    on May 12th, 2006 at 11:54 am

    I was cracking up at “digging thing” – too funny! If you do plant in the ground, you’ll need the hoe.

  5. #5 Steve
    on May 13th, 2006 at 9:36 am

    Eugenia. I must object. Tomatoes do ***not*** do “fine” in pots, unless your definition of “fine” is growing but not actually producing any tomatoes. This is beyond dispute. The roots, Genie, the ROOTS go four feet down, if not more. I think the world needs to understand you had three (THREE!) cherry tomatoes in a pot that was about eighteen inches deep. My god, are you mad? Three? And they’ll be fine, she says. Oh. No.

    And zucchini, she says, will be fine in a pot.

    Umm. Only if the “pot” you have in mind is an ABOVE GROUND POOL FILLED WITH COMPOST MY GOD DO YOU REALIZE THE IMPLICATIONS?!?!?!?

    Also. Apparently, you need two (2) corn to produce anything. They have to fertilize each other.

  6. #6 Steve
    on May 13th, 2006 at 9:39 am

    The world also needs to understand that I saved those cherry tomatoes. Saved. Them. From. Certain. Death.

    All of that said, I realize I am not much of a gardener myself. But some of my best friends are gardeners. So there’s that….

  7. #7 The Inadvertent Gardener
    on May 17th, 2006 at 6:11 am

    [...] At the tea at Maggie and Heal’s, Steve brought up the fact that he wanted to grow Corn (1), as written on that original list on our whiteboard. [...]

  8. #8 Hans-Peter & Krystle
    on Jun 10th, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I beg to differ with a recent post–Tomatoes CAN grow in pots! We have a celebrity tomato plant in a 10″ pot. It’s already produced one large, delicious tomato, and it’s now got 13 more in the works, about the size of golf balls. The plant is almost 2′ tall and growing. But maybe what makes all the difference is the New Mexico sun. Nonetheless, it is possible!


  9. #9 inadvertentgardener
    on Jun 11th, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Krystle, no worries — later that summer, we figured out how to grow them in pots, and now that’s practically the only way I grow them. Trust me…the pot in question in this post? Very, very small. Definitely not big enough for any kind of tomato…

  10. #10 No turning back « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Oct 9th, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    [...] I am aware that we could have, at any point following our conversation, actually gone to purchase a Digging thing, part of me thought, well, if we don’t get a shovel, we can’t have a [...]

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