Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Square Peg - Going to Pot



The Square Peg - Going to Pot
© S. Bradley Stoner



It was late afternoon and I was in my garage. I’d cleared my work bench and fetched an array of salvaged flower pots on it. I’d saved them from previous purchases, rescued them from being thrown away by neighbors, and even a couple from the curbside piles on “bulk pickup” day. By the way, it’s amazing what people chuck if the city picks it up for nothing. Okay, it isn’t “nothing,” trust me, you pay for it.  I digress. Anyway, I was in the garage fixing to do some planting. It’s second spring here in San Antonio and perfect weather to start seedlings and cuttings.

Normally, I do this in my potting shed in the back yard, but I got to the chore late today and the sun was beating a 94° tattoo on my head. It was a bit warm. The garage, on the other hand, was a reasonably cool 82°. Besides, it was out of the sun and my big box fan kept the air circulating and the work environment tolerable, so I was ready to test out the theory that I truly do have a green thumb.

On the agenda today, Pride of Barbados and Sago Palm seeds sent to me by a friend in Austin. I was now the proud owner of several Pride of Barbados ripe pods and three Sago Palm seeds. I’d never tried to start either one from seed, but I have had success with other plants, like that Mexican Habanero Pepper pictured above. That plant is going on three years old. It produced over ten big peppers earlier this year and, with second spring, now has about sixteen new peppers growing on it. I’m not sure of the actual number. It’s still flowering and little peppers keep popping up on a daily basis. I only count the ones bigger than my thumb. Stop it Brad... your mind is wandering again.

So, there I was, happily measuring out potting soil, scarifying the Barbados seeds (this apparently helps the seeds germinate) and generally getting ready to plant when Duncan and Bob sneak up on me. Okay... they didn’t really sneak, but I was pretty focused on what I was doing so I didn’t hear them walk up my driveway. Bob almost made me drop the seed I was working on with a small emery board.

“Whatcha doin’?”

“Dammit, Bob, don’t do that!”

“Do what?”

“Sneak up on me.”

“Who’s sneaking?” Duncan asked. “We just wandered over to see what you were up to.”

“Well, wander a little louder next time,” I grumbled.

“Geez, don’t be so grouchy,” Bob said.

“My garage, my rules... I’ll be grouchy if I want to.”

Bob reached out for one of the Sago Palm seeds. I smacked his hand with the emery board. “Don’t touch my seeds,” I growled.

“Ow!” Bob whined, withdrawing his hand quickly... as if an emery board could inflict pain on a grown man.

Duncan stepped in before things escalated. “So, are you going to pot?”

Bob sniggered. “Stoner going to pot... that’s funny.”

“Put a sock in it Bob. It’s not like I haven’t heard stuff like that since I was a kid. And yeah, Duncan, I’m going to pot some new plants.”

Duncan eyeballed the front yard, crowded with Esperanza, Mexican Firebush, roses, my chocolate tree, and the Live Oak. “Where are you going to plant ‘em?”

“If I’m successful with the Pride of Barbados, I’m going to plant one in the front... even if I have to dig up one of the roses or shrink the yard a little. If they all come up, I’m going to sell some.”

“You could give me one,” Bob suggested.

“Or you could buy one,” Duncan returned.

“That’s not very neighborly,” Bob grumbled, reaching for one of the pods.

I smacked him with the potting trowel.

“HOLY CRAP!” Bob yelled.

“Keep it up, Bob, and seeds won’t be the only thing Brad will be planting,” Duncan warned.