For the past two quarters, science has not been a subject at Applewood School. No, science has been an activity. Science has been venturing out into the garden every morning with my straw hat on, leaning to one side with the weight of the watering can, and getting my hands dirty. Science has been learning to spread soil evenly so that water will penetrate, to pinch off energy stealing side-shoots on tomatoes, to pick up worms without grimacing, and to not worry about planting seeds meticulously. I have learned that two corn plants is not enough for cross-pollination, that tomatoes shouldn’t be planted anywhere near corn, and that even the best potting soil from the nursery isn’t alive – you have to add compost.
I began nearly every day in the garden, where we have two raised beds, one of which is bursting with seedlings. These seedlings were planted in careful relation to one another: carrots with the garlic (garlic keeps the carrot flies away), marigolds and dill with the cucumbers (both beneficial), and more dill with the beets (good for beet health). The other box was planned for my medicinal garden; however, one day I noticed what appeared to be a weed. I consulted my daddy, and he shook his head. Not a weed. We dubbed the big leafed thing “the mystery plant,” but we are now quite certain that it is a zucchini plant, reappearing in its full glory where we planted it last year. Then there are the tomatoes, eight pots of them scattered about the patio getting bathed in sunlight – we all agree that they have grown at least a foot in a month. Among the tomatoes, underneath our bottlebrush tree, is my succulent garden. The now large and happy succulents began as clippings from a friend, which I plunged into soil, watered, and left alone, watering only now and again. I learned not to plant large succulents anywhere near other plants, for succulents are hogs when it comes to water, sucking it right up to store (hence, succulents). Then there is the flower garden in the front yard. The particular spot where giant green leaves, dainty red flowers, lacy blue buds, and many new seedlings are sprouting used to be nothing more than a patch of hard dirt. We revived it with some encouragement from a shovel and hoe, and this is our second year of a successful flower garden.