Trowel and Error
These tips are environmentally friendly and include such cool things as a recipe for willow water.
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I found my first gardening journal the other day. Forgotten, hidden in a box of books stashed in the garage, the decades-old notebook holds naive (or stupid, depending on how you look at it) observations.
"Removed big, ugly bush from front yard" said one 1984 entry. It was perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever done, since my grandmother planted the pyracantha. I didn't know at the time, but I have felt terrible about it ever since.
"Vegetable garden planted in intensive plot, fertilized with chicken manure" said an entry from 1986. Whatever that means! A few weeks later I learned the manure was way too fresh. The garden burned that year.
The entries got better, less amusing, as the years went by.
Sharon Lovejoy, one of my favorite authors, has gardened, and journaled, for years. When I saw a copy of her charming little book Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips & Remedies for the Gardener, I had to call her. Lo and behold, the 700 shortcuts, tips and remedies in the book are a tidied up reproduction of her gardening journals.
"This book doesn't belong to me, it belongs to everyone I've met through the years," she said.
In true Lovejoy fashion, the tips are environmentally friendly and include such cool things as a recipe for willow water: "Scientists recently confirmed what herbalists and gardeners have known for centuries. The tender spring tips and leaves of willows, easiest of all woods to root, contain powerful hormones that stimulate the growth and development of plants. No need to buy chemically produced rooting compounds when Mother Nature has a supply as near as a willow tree," she writes.
"Tender twigs and leaves are cut into 1-inch pieces, placed in a bucket of water and steeped for a week like tea. Strain and store the liquid in canning jars in the refrigerator. Dip fresh cuttings into willow water before planting them," writes Lovejoy.
Topping off this delightful read is its size — small enough to fit in a pocket, she said.
Small enough to always be on hand, I replied, to ward off even the most sophomoric trowel errors.
Hilary Groutage Smith writes for the Salt Lake Tribune.
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