It was a warm sunny spring in April, 1998, and I was once again digging a new garden (I’d been slowly converting grass to gardens for years). I was digging hard. I wanted to try growing roses and had read that you have to plant the crowns deeply if you want them to survive our cold Minnesota winters.
I was about ten inches down in a ditch four feet long and two feet wide. I set the shovel tip in the ground, jumped on the back of the blade—and heard a loud “PSSSSSST!” I had ruptured a gas line! I had no idea they were so close to the surface.
I called 911, and in minutes my neighborhood was filled with sirens, police, fire engines, and other trucks. My dog and I were not allowed to be in my house. Neighbors, correctly assuming that they would soon be forbidden from starting their cars with a gas leak in the area, quickly drove their cars out of the neighborhood. Streets were closed for blocks around.
Of course the leak was eventually stopped, the lines rerouted and replaced, and all was well. But even though that happened almost 20 years ago, I’ve never lived it down.
I’m still known in these parts as The Lady With The Gas Garden.
What’s your worst gardening mistake? Send it to GREENPRINTS, Broken Trowel Award, P.O. Box 1355, Fairview, NC 28730. If we print it, you’ll get a free one-year subscription and our GREENPRINTS Companion CD!
This article was published originally in 2017, in GreenPrints Issue #109.