Saturday, July 18, 2009

About yay big

I admit that I am perhaps an overly organized person. But boy, my gardening binder is a thing to behold. Its tidy three-inch wide self is separated into sections such as, “soil science”, “fruits and vegetables”, and “my garden plans”. Contained within each section are articles I’ve collected, information sheets from products I’ve purchased, multiple pencil-drawn plans of my dream garden, and homemade charts recording all kinds of minutiae. On the cover, serving to inspire, is a page torn from Organic Gardening magazine featuring a close up photo of carrots in all colors imaginable.

As a person addicted to research, my goal as a new gardener is to amass as much knowledge as possible, so I’ve read books, magazines, searched forums, and tapped my gardening friend for info. One early spring day, about three years ago, I wanted to know how much space I needed for a tomato plant. When I asked my experienced gardener friend how many inches wide it would get, I was not pleased when she extended her arms to make a large circle and said, “oh…about yay big.” Well. There’s no room to indicate “yay big” on the squares of my graph paper. I needed a number. Since her tip didn’t help me, I searched the Internet for the answer and learned that I not only needed to figure out how wide, but also how tall, that I needed to figure out how to stake the thing, and that there were determinate and indeterminate types, that there were heirlooms (what in the world is that?) that are generally taller, and so on. I also found an article about tomato pests and diseases and screamed when I clicked on “tomato hornworm” and an image popped onto my screen. As overwhelmed as I felt, I was also fascinated by the intricacies of growing a tomato plant.

After hours of living and breathing tomato research, I realized what a determinate – I mean determined person I was, and felt thoroughly informed and proud of myself. I had taken copious notes and printed off sufficient information. I was ready to finish planning and move on. Fast forward to my third season of growing tomatoes. Lesson learned is that gardening experience itself provides a knowledge that is so much easier to store in my head than within the rings of my gardening binder. I still consider myself a newbie gardener in that I’ve only had enough seasons under the summer sun to try three out of about 20 different ways to stake a tomato. However, at this point, I have the experience enough to know that if a first-season gardener were to ask me how wide a tomato plant is, I could easily access my notes under the “fruits and vegetables” tab in my binder for a number to pass along, or I could simply hold up my arms in a wide circle and say, “oh…about yay big”.


  1. Wendy,

    Your adventures as a new gardener sound very familiar to me. So when are you embarking on your new career? Are you taking any classes?

    You are meant to do this for a living!
    Shirley Bovshow

  2. Thanks! I just finished my second master's degree (really third official career change) and I'm still loving my day job so far... I also swore that I would never pursue any more formal education again (I think my husband would also kill me if I told him I was going back to school). I have seen some interesting looking landscape design classes though...and I have my eye on a master gardener class this winter...


My awesome gardening friends...thanks for leaving a comment! I don't typically repond here, but I love knowing who you are so I can visit your blog as well.

btw - if you're trying to show me nude Miley Cyrus photos, sell me nikes or viagra or antibiotics, or encourage my lovely garden readers to visit your site on solar panel construction, or seo-whatevers, sorry, but I'm not publishing your comment. If you want to moderate my blog - well, I can't keep you too busy, and the pay would be horrible. And lastly, no. I'm not interested in Club Penguin cheat codes. Thanks anyway.

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