For Christmas this year, my mother bought me gardening books. Exactly what every Marine wants and dreams about. Right… Well, with a crappy internet connection and only basic cable, what else is a man to do but read his christmas gifts, right? Well, within a week I had an insatiable urge to grow a magnificent garden, and the snow was still piled a few feet tall; I waited. 3 long months and soon the snow started to diminish, and I had already forgotten where I keep my snowbrush. “Now is the time,” I say to myself, “Spring is upon us, and I need to start planning.” Being rather logistically oriented, I needed a plan, and fast. Square Foot Gardening was the simplest solution possible. It involves very little work, no tilling of soil, weed prevention built into the technique, and an overall simplistic way of gardening organically that wouldn’t deprive me of my spare time or vegetable yield. I was hooked. I read both of Mel Bartholomew’s books, the original square foot gardening book, and then the answer book to common problems that occur. By April 1st, I was ready to get some serious work done. My fiance and I toiled over all options for making the “Mel’s mix,” the growing medium used in SFG. (That’s the abbreviation for square foot gardening, so get used to it.) Well guess what conclusion I came to? It’s friggin expensive and a pain in the ass to track down all of those ingredients. So, plan B.
I scoured the internet for Mel’s mix, and guess what I found? A headache. Its so ridiculously difficult to get the stuff, and then the sheer cost of shipping over a thousand pounds of Mel’s mix made it even more difficult. So what the hell is a guy to do? Ah… Home Depot. I abhor chain stores, and Home Depot is certainly no exception. However, upon scrolling through their website, I discovered that they had the bagged Mel’s mix I was looking for. Hooray for me! Ummm, no. No hooray for me. They don’t ever stock it. But…. they could order the sh*t, but oohhhh friggin nooo, it was $150 just to have them ship it to the flipping store, so I could then beat the hell out of my already beaten Jeep hauling the stuff home? I think not. Enter, the power of persuasion.
If you go into a store, any store, generally they are willing to help you out. Friendly suggestions abound, smiling faces, and service to your car if what you are purchasing is too heavy to carry alone. Wonderous, grand gestures to ensure a repeat customer. Not with Home Depot. In store personel were to say the least, useless. So that 45 minute drive there, after I had called and asked if they had it (they said they did), turned out to be a waste of 16mpg gas… f***ing Jeep… So, we ended up calling their store hotline, and with just a few short jabs at their lack of professionalism, poor advertising and customer service, they said they would waive the $150 fee! Terrific! But if I’m paying for shipping, I want the stuff shipped to my doorstep. As Spock would say, “It’s only logical.” Sure enough, with a few more complaints and a few choice other words flowing like velvet from my devilish tongue, they agreed. Shipped to my house for free! Rock on world! It is gestures like these, small gestures, from one human to another, that give me some hope for humanity. Not much, but some none the less.
To the lumber yard we go. We purchased twelve 2″x8″x8′ un-treated boards, a roll of landscaping fabric, and home we went. Within an hour we had our four 4′ by 8′ boxes built, and we had started our seeds in our miniature greenhouse. Now, we wait for the Mel’s mix to be shipped to our door, and then the real fun begins…