Ha, the fun of moving to a new house without knowing what you’re getting into. And no, I’m not talking about knob and tube, or ancient septic systems, I’m talking about your garden! Oh, the gardening mishaps you have to look forward to!
I’ve had friends who have found old clay tennis courts under the plot they wanted to garden in. That was tough but still funny. Others found out too late that their vegetable garden bed was previously home to a large, heavily sprayed flower garden. Certainly not as funny.
What lies beneath your garden plot is always a mystery until you dig it up. What gardening mishaps might await you under the grass and weeds? Is it clay? The skeleton of an old pet? Eh … rocks?
In today’s piece, Too, Too Many Rocks by Harvey Silverman, the answer is the latter. But the punchline at the end as to what made this New England soil extra rocky will make you laugh.
There’s No Such Thing as a New Plot of Soil without Gardening Mishaps
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject the joy of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
Too, Too Many Rocks
By Harvey Silverman
The dream had come true. After several years of apartment living, our first real home was just what we wanted—a 1785 New England farmhouse with a stream, fields, and woodlands.
We moved in late in June, too late, we thought, to plant a large vegetable garden.
For the summer, I chose a spot along the country lane, open and with full sun. Perfect for now, I thought.
With spading fork in hand I set to work, enthusiastic and joyful. I turned over the first forkful of earth—and a couple of fist-sized rocks. The next forkful yielded more rocks. And the next.
“Wow!” I said aloud. “I know New England soil is supposed to be rocky, but this is ridiculous.”
It was a long afternoon. By dinnertime I had a small plot dug up and, next to it, a large pile of rocks.
“How’s it going?” my sweetheart asked at dinner.
“Uh, I think the garden may be smaller than we planned.”
Still, by summer’s end we delighted in our little garden’s production of green beans, zucchini, and tomatoes. Then one day an elderly gentleman came to the door and introduced himself as a former owner of our house. We welcomed him in and, later, walked together outside. He noted our garden with amusement.
“That spot used to be a hollow,” he told me. “I had a fella dump a couple truckloads of rocks there, and then I covered it with a couple inches of dirt. Musta been 25 years ago.”
The next year I marked out a large garden behind the house. I got a rototiller and turned over a few stones here and there. ❖
By Harvey Silverman, published originally in 2018, in GreenPrints Issue #114. Illustrations by Marilynne Roach.
Did you enjoy this story about gardening mishaps? Leave a comment below with your own story!