Gardening After Hours
by Jarad Johnson
One of the many things that I don’t enjoy about living at school is that I have no opportunity to garden. There’s no garden bed to tend, no weeds to pull, and no flowers to enjoy. So, I started taking horticulture-based classes a few semesters ago, and that has saved my sanity, what little I had. At least I have something that I can do that’s related to plants.
This semester, my classes are mostly in the campus greenhouse, and I asked my teacher if I could come in on the weekends and do some work repotting and tending plants. To my infinite surprise, he said I could. So, two weeks ago, I went into the greenhouse on a Sunday and assessed what needed to be done. I saw some aloes were busting out of their containers, and generally looked wild and unkempt. To prevent the attack of the monster aloes, I set about dividing them. In the end, there were 116 aloes. The greenhouse isn’t that big, and my teacher wondered what we would do with them all. Some of them were given away, but there are still aloes crowding out one of the rooms. There may still be an aloe rebellion in the offing. It was the most fun I’ve had in some time, and I had to run across the campus to make a desk shift on time. I was one minute late but deliriously happy.
Last weekend, I didn’t think that there would be as much for me to do. I went in and, of course, found some of my plant friends needed my attention. There was an orchid that was in dire need of assistance. And I don’t mean the small little orchids that are readily available in supermarkets. This was a different variety, called a dendrobium, and it looks like a bush and is five feet tall. The trouble with it was that it wasn’t getting enough moisture and needed to be moved. I picked it up and set it near one of the mist benches. However, I discovered that it was in a pot. A tiny pot. That I could barely see for all of the roots on the outside. So, me and a friend of mine carefully moved it to the potting bench, and I took a hammer and a large nail and broke the pot. I read that this particular orchid lies to cling onto rocks in nature, which is convenient because the greenhouse has gravel, which meant that I could just set it on the ground and let it do its thing. Part of me hopes that it crawls all over the wall behind it, and takes over the spot its in. Maybe it will take on the aloe in the great plant wars.
In class, the horticulture department is facilitating a plant sale this spring, and we’ve been getting in all of the plant shipments for that for the past couple of weeks, and my class has been potting them all up. So far, we’ve potted 8,000 plant plugs, and more are on the way. You can imagine how full our medium-sized greenhouse is at this point. We’re running out of room! It going to be interesting finding more room when the rest come in.
I’m really just happy to have access to plant related things this semester, really. Plants are what keep me sane when everything else is stressful. And I like to keep my eye on things. You never know when the aloes will get out of control.
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!