Monday, July 27, 2009

A real gardener would know the difference!

Did you know there is a difference between bags of compost and bags of soil? It took two experiences for me to learn this. Obviously, I know nothing of gardening and am a slow learner.

The first hint came in Las Vegas. We were staying at a condo for a week and my dog, Bailey, was with us. Since it was 116 degrees outside with mostly pavement and cement, I thought it would be a good idea to fix a relief box for her in the shade of the patio so she wouldn't burn her paws. We went to Home Depot, purchased a bag of compost (it was less expensive than soil). The clerk even gave us a top to a refrigerator box. We turned the cardboard lid upside down and poured in a layer of compost. Perfect - or so I thought.

Bailey used the box exactly once and refused to use it again. The next morning, we opened the slider to a patio swarming with hundreds of gnats. At first we were not sure where they were coming from -were they trying to get water or stay in the shade? A couple of days later there was no question they were coming from the bag of compost and the relief box. We found the nearest dumpster and threw it all away.

Fast forward 6 weeks. I decide to try again to grow tomatoes in a container. I dumped the dead plant, washed and bleached the container, bought a bag of compost (I did mention it was cheaper than soil) refilled the container and potted the new tomato plant in the compost.

My houseplants have been in the same pots forever, so I thought it would be a good idea to add some soil to the pots and replant a couple. I felt smug as I used the leftover compost for the houseplants -I hate to waste anything.

The next day, we notice a few gnats in the house. Did we leave a door or window ajar? Are they so small they are getting through the screen? A mystery. More and more gnats appeared in the house. I tried desperately to kill them and find the source.

A few days pass and it's time to water the houseplants. EUREKA, I found it, they're coming from the plants. Only then did I remember the patio scene in Las Vegas.
At least I know the source and can be more effective in eliminating them. I feel so sheepish, next time,I will spend the couple extra dollars for potting SOIL.

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