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a story for the stupid gardening mistakes FAQ thread

19 years ago

I just finished reading thru the stupid mistakes thread and it made me feel SO much better about the stupid things I keep doing -- especially buying too mand things at once that I can't get in the ground in time. I wanted to share my stupidest thing though, since it is one I didn't see mentioned yet.

This happened 2 1/2 years ago. I saw a little ad in the newsletter of a local group. It said: free for the picking -- lots of pears and a pear sapling that was coming up too close to the mother tree. Free tree! Cool! Thought I to myself, rushing to the phone. The following Sunday I arranged to go get me this sapling. But I was smart. I knew myself. SO I figured if I don't have the planting hole already dug, I will end up killing the tree before I get it in the ground. So I dug a hole about 3 feet around and about as deep in my front yard where a tree had been yanked out before I moved here so I thought a nice flowering fruit tree would be so pretty.

Then I got to the house in question -- which was about 45 min from me. There was an ENORMOUS mother of a pear tree and piles of pears strewn all over. And nearby there was a smaller skinnier tree -- but already more than 10 feet high. Not the little waist high sapling I was envisioning! But did I have the sense to say, "no thanks" and go home? No way! I set to with my little spade to dig around it. And dig. And dig. And then the owner lent me a pickaxe. And then I flooded the zone with water to try to loosen the ground. I had been at it for about 3 hours when I noticed that the area was full of poison ivy. But by then I was grimly determined.....By 5 hours in, I was beginning to understand what a "taproot" was. I was standing in a mud crater that could be seen from the moon but the tree was still firmly anchored. It was more than 7 hours after I started before I finally had the damn thing laid out horizontal on the ground.

Only then did I consider the problem of how I was going to get this huge bedraggled monster all the way to my house. I figured the roof of my car was the only choice and that I would tie the branches like a xmas tree. Did you know that Bradford pear trees have sharp hard "thorns" on their branches? By the time I got the branches tied down and the owner helped me wrestle it on to my car, I was pretty badly sliced up. Insanely undaunted, I drove off into the darkening evening with roots and branches extending well past both ends of the car and bouncing up and down.

I got home about 7PM and immediately realized that my carefully prepared planting hole was laughably inadequate. A sane person (had one somehow ended up in this situation) would have left the so-called sapling to be chopped up for firewood. But no, not me. I started digging again. A couple of neighbors came out to see what could be wrong -- why I was covered from head to toe in mud and blood and frantically digging in the front yard in the dark. At about 9PM, my daughter came home and was horrified! In hopes of getting me out of public view, she held the tree in place while I began to refill the hole. By the end, I was too exhausted to stand up but I was on the ground scrabbling dirt into the hole with my bare hands and nearly crawling into the house at last.

In the morning, I went to look at my hardwon acquisition and realized for the first time that I had planted it directly under the electric and phone lines to my house! I shook my head as I scratched at the rashes all over me.

I just didn't have it in me to think of moving it again. And besides it was obviously dead.

Incredibly, it bloomed in the spring and grew several feet the following summer. This year, I had to have a tree company prune it from around the wires. They wanted to just uproot it since it was a "trash" Bradford tree! Imagine, my precious pear "sapling" mere trash!

I am still waiting for a pear from it. But I promise you, to me they will be the sweetest pears in the universe. They have to be to let me rationalize this self-inflicted disaster.

Morals: (1) Look up before digging a planting hole.

(2) Know when to fold 'em.

(3) Do stupid things in your BACK yard not your FRONT yard.


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