A garden oddity…


Lots of people keep a bale of straw in their car’s trunk. Really…I’m sure of it…


As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, sometimes gardeners get unfair reputations.  “Not weird” is another example of this particular besmirchment. Having been a gardener since pretty much the moment of birth, I can tell you that gardeners are an odd lot who do odd things.


And this may prove truer for me than most–just ask my beloved Anna who has put up with so many odd garden requests and ideas she could A. Keep a file and B. Write a book. Thankfully, we have little kids, so she likely doesn’t have time to do either of those things at present.


I think it stems (pun intended) from the fact that if you are growing edible plants in your yard, or balcony, or pot on your doorstep, aesthetics are not necessarily your first concern. While vegetable gardens can be attractive, don’t get me wrong, they are not usually the landscaping one would choose if they wanted year-round entertaining. Unless you are in Tomorrowland in Disneyland, where pretty much all of the landscaping is edible. Tis true, we were just there and I verified it person. Pretty cool, huh? But I digress.


Vegetable plants sometimes die back and turn brown at different times. And the gardener sacrifices looks to obtain nutrition and good tasting things. And clothing that works in the garden isn’t exactly fit for, well, anything else. Covered in mud, sweat and sometimes our own blood (thanks raspberry bushes), clothing for the garden is based on pure utility rather than anything related to looks. Sacrificing form for function’s sake if you will. Gardeners have already made this sacrifice, so maybe we are willing to keep making this sacrifice in terms of our behaviors.


So about the aforementioned straw. I got it in my head that straw would make good mulch to put down on the raised beds this year. That doesn’t sound strange, right? So on a lunch break from my day job at the CA State Legislature, I drove, in a full suit, to the nearest feed and supply store in Sacramento.


I waited my turn and asked the dude behind the counter where I might find a bale of hay or straw. He looked at me a little funny, but said if I paid for it, he would meet me out front and help me load it into my truck.


One problem.


I don’t have a truck. I drive a Ford Focus. My trunk ain’t exactly spacious, you could say. But to make a long story longer, when he came out front hauling the bale on a cart, I popped the trunk and picked up one side of it and started wrestling with it.


At this point, the employee helpfully informed me that it was unlikely to fit. I scoffed, asked him to grab the other side and shove. And guess what? Despite the naysayers–it did fit. If by “did fit” you were to mean “not fit at all.”


The stupid thing wasn’t even close. Stuck out by a foot. So–brilliant plan–I cut the cords holding it together and started shoving the straw in all over my trunk. Even disassembled, it didn’t all make it in the trunk.


And speaking of my trunk, uh yeah. It had loose straw all over it. No matter–once I got it home, I would distribute it all over my newly weeded garden. After work, I pulled in to the driveway, greeted the family, and loaded up a wheelbarrow with a load that I spread over the raised beds. And then, another after that, and then…I didn’t actually get through the second because it was all covered to a depth of about two inches. And I still had 2/3 of a straw bale in my trunk.


Many people might have been uneasy about a predicament such as this. Not me. As a gardener, I don’t actually have much shame. And as a Dad of little kids who don’t sleep well–I forget stuff. For the first few days, I really tried to think of a solution to the straw problem. Then I forgot about it. I’d go to the grocery store, pop the trunk to put in the bags containing the various things I can’t grow (yet!) and be stymied by straw. I’d have a good laugh and resolve to do something about it. And then I’d forget again. Not to worry folks–the story does have a happy ending. I did find a home for most of it. My dear sister, after significant begging, agreed to take a great deal of it.


So now my trunk is usable. Still with a thin layer of straw of course, but hey (or should I say “hay”) what’s a guy to do? And useable is perfectly fine for a gardener like me. Besides–it’s not like anyone’s ever going to know about it, right?



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