May 22, 2005

Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish

The old feeder has been busy with his vegetable garden. Many plants were beat up in a windstorm the day after I set them out, so I had to re-plant a few. My garden isn't big, but it brings many pleasures. It also teaches important lessons. I learned something from it already this season.

I like to think of myself as frugal. My friends think I'm a miser. I try not to be a cheapskate, though. Stinginess is often taken for frugality, or frugality used as an excuse for stinginess. I make an effort.

Every year I make a list of things I'll need to get the garden planted. Then I check the list against what I have in the shed. Miracle-Gro, a fine product, is always on my list.

This year, however, it occurred to me that I hadn't bought a box of Miracle-Gro for over 5 years. There was always some on the shelf, left over from a giant box I bought in the last millennium. Does the stuff keep forever, or swell up, or what?

Upon analysis, the only explanation for the long lasting fertilizer was that I had been stinting the vegetables. Forcing them to produce tomatoes and peppers on concentration camp rations, I felt like pharaoh, commanding the Hebrews to make bricks without straw.

Not that they complained, or threatened to run away, but I have had trouble with disease and bugs. Perhaps if the little beggars had been better nourished...

I told my girlfriend about this discovery. She said it really would be a miracle if it could make the plants grow while it sat on the shelf in the shed.

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