Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 4, 2008


Gardening is more fun when friends and family help the gardener


      Gardening is fun. Growing vegetables and flowers gives me a sense of working with God. My role is small – planting seeds, weeding, and tending young plants. God’s role is big. He provides the dirt, sunshine, and rain.

      Men can make plastic but only God can make dirt. And God’s dirt is something else. It has stuff in it that makes things grow, mainly nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

      Nitrogen helps plants to grow, to be healthy, and to produce protein. Phosphorus helps plants grow strong roots. Potassium helps plants grow strong stalks in the same way that calcium strengthens our bones.

      Of course some dirt needs our help to get the right combination of these ingredients. That is why people manufacture and sell fertilizer.

      My friend Laura, quite a gardener herself, reminded me of all this after reading about the way our squash is growing in the ash heap. Evidently the main ingredient in the ashes is none other than potassium or potash.

      Laura first learned about the power of the ashes in Memphis where she planted a Pyracantha bush beside the ash trap of their fireplace. The plant produced huge berries and won Laura a blue ribbon. The potash made the difference.

      God knew we would need potash so he made a lot of it. In fact, potash or potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the earth’s crust. It is found in every cell in plants and animals. Without it growth would be impossible.

      Potassium, like phosphate, is mined for use in industry and agriculture. My father’s first job was in a Florida phosphate mine. It was miserable work in an awful environment. He soon left the job, became a plumber’s helper, and wisely moved to Alabama.

      Laura is not surprised that our squash are growing beautifully in the ash pile. But she doubts even potash can grow a 30-pound cabbage. Time will tell. If I grow one, she wants to be on hand to witness the harvesting. That will be fine. She can help me load it on my pickup.

      On Laura’s advice I ditched my plan to buy another Knockout Rose bush. I plan to follow her advice and root my own as she did last February. She says Knockout Roses are quite easy to root by planting healthy stems at the time of the February pruning. That should save me a few bucks to help with my astonishing gasoline bill.

      Gardening is fun but it is even more fun when good friends assist with the gardening. I welcome all the helpful hints I can get. Good advice will help my garden grow.

Can gardening be a team sport? Perhaps it can. I doubt that I would have a garden were it not a family project. It would be difficult to fight those weeds alone. But with the help of Tim, Sarah, and Dean, it has become a delightful way to sweat in the springtime.

By the way, I have yet another surprise for Sarah. This week I planted some “Jack and the Bean Stalk” seed. I can’t wait to see how tall they will grow. Imagine a bean stalk twelve feet tall, a 30 pound cabbage, and a 40 pound cantaloupe! What fun it is to help and watch things grow! + + +