lalennoxa

Some people you just cannot help

LaLennoxa
August 29, 2017

Walked by a neighbour's house the other day and ended up talking to the neighbour regarding the stone plant bed which they had newly built. The soil put in the bed by the landscapers looked to be very clay - some kind of cheap fill. The neighbour said that it looked like it needed to watered more, and I said that it may actually also need to be amended - and I had some well-aged compost from my compost bin which I rarely use and they were welcome to it. The neighbour came over a few days later pail in hand to get some, and I showed her the bin - opened it up to show how you throw the food etc on the top, and take out from the bottom. I think she got turned off by the process of compost and said she would pass - but then kept asking maybe she should go buy "fertilizer" to put on her plants and if that would help. I tried to explain a bit about the process, but I realized I wasn't telling her what she wanted to hear, so stepped back from that one. Garden educators must come across this all the time. Have you any stories from your experiences?

Comments (82)

  • spedigrees z4VT

    A composting toilet (2 actually) is my dream, along with a solar powered generator.


    I miss my horses (running in greener pastures now) so much, but I miss their manure nearly as much. Having to make do with compost and used water from the goldfish pool is such a pale second.


    That "Dogs in Elk" essay is as hilarious today as when I first read it a decade ago. Somewhere I have a saved text version of it. There is another amusing tale of trying to extricate a cat whose head was stuck in a garbage disposal. Cat had followed the scent of fish bones that the disposal had devoured. (It had a happy ending.) And then there was a post somewhere about the couple whose puppy could not be persuaded to pee in the yard before going to bed. The husband used the demonstration method to get the point across, and the wife peered out an upstairs window to see hubby and puppy both peeing enthusiastically on a bush below.


    On a more serious note, it is sad that the concept of animals nourishing plants and vice-versa has been lost to so many in the modern world, along with the knowledge of where food comes from.

    LaLennoxa thanked spedigrees z4VT
  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    Yessssss, sped. The composting toilet. I had totally forgotten. Fantastic!

    speaking of manure...I collected llama poop one year. So convenient. They poop little round balls as perfectly shaped as a machine made...round thing. No smell, not squishy. Shoveled them in a bag like they were acorns. User friendly! And, they all poop in one spot so it was conveniently piled together. It was like they were born to make a dandy gentleman 's compost.

    LaLennoxa thanked deanna Maine 5b6a
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  • Marie Tulin

    Something in that list did surprise me. Never mind which. But peeing on compost is such old news. I am amusing myself thinking about doing it into a tumbling composter 3 feet off the ground. I think a very young,very virile young man might manage. But I kind of doubt it.

  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    I'm nearly there, by accident. We were told to put a filter in our septic system. But our older system can only fit a small filter. That small filter could not handle a family of six, especially a family of six who homeschools, which means five of us are home all the time and using that septic system. After repeated overflows of the septic, and visits from the pump man to make sure there is no problem, it was obvious the problem was the filter. Imagine my embarrassed surprise this spring to find used tampons littering the ground around the septic, right where the stonemason had been working the week before. If he ever brings it up, I'm gonna show him this post and tell him I have the most amazing composting secret. Thanks, campanula!

    have no idea what a mooncup is, though.

  • Campanula UK Z8

    Aging hippy alert!

    Mooncups were a version of the cervical cap...but particularly in use at 'those' times of the month. Surely this is clear now. It is obviously not fish or bone in the traditional trio of ferts I refer to...

    Our pumpkins and squash were particularly humongous and houseplants, normally early suicides under my negligent care, flourished glossily under the new bloody regime.

    Yep, compost peeing is practically mainstream but my personal iron rich amendment seemed to cause no end of shuddering and shock. Might be a Brit thing - we seem to lack the US fastidious hygiene thing and generally don't mind being regarded as utter filthoids. Although, tbf, I am mainly speaking entirely for myself here: daily showers, for example, are completely unknown in my household (we have a bath twice a year whether we need it or not - once at Christmas and once on the Queen's birthday)..

  • Marie Tulin

    what, in case you run into Father Christmas and the Queen?

    Or the proximity of other family celebrants? My family didn't take daily showers either. My mother referred to the "French" bath which uses a washcloth and soap.

    Even now my adult children are dirty. My daughter with special needs lives in a group residence and is subjected to daily showers, needed or not. And she only wears an outfit once, dirty or not. Except for underpants, this is unusual concept. Or I should say, a domestic concept.

    I am exaggerating. If I've been gardening for hours, I'll shower, at least once a day. And wash my clothes.


  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    Campanula, I'm impressed with your ingenuity and resourcefulness. One day we're going to have to get back to making less waste and being resourceful like that.

    Well, I'm going to be totally honest here. But, before that...

    I know why Brits don't shower as much. Their faucets still have the hot and cold separated into two spigots. You have to run each temp out of separate spigots and then desperately try to splash them together or else you're either scalding your face or freezing it. At least, that's what it was like for my one and only visit. Who has the time? (Just kidding.)

    Now, for honesty...

    I don't wash my hair. I have curly hair, and began doing the baking soda and vinegar wash 10 years ago. My hair looked amazing, 100x better than it ever had before in my life. Eventually, becuase I wasn't stripping all the natural oils off, I needed to wash it with the BS/V less and less and less becuase my scalp began to produce less and less oil. Now I don't wash. AT ALL. It looks amazing, I get compliments, and, believe it or not, there is no smell. When my kids and I go on field trips and and the guide talks about how gross it was because the colonists didn't have modern hygiene, I'm thinking to myself, "Maybe not so gross."

    One friend no longer uses deodorant and never smells bad. I'm not QUITE there yet. It's amazing how much less I feel the compunction to slather everything with soap now that my hair has shown me The Way. I do love standing in the hot water in the shower (dailiy), but I've realized I don't need as much soap.

    See? You filthy Brits and Frenchies are an inspiration to us!

    The kids are studying Ancient History this year. We get to talk again about the many uses of urine that modernity now frowns upon, like fermenting it to clean clothes, and using it as mouthwash (it is completely sterile, after all, when it first appears). Always great fun for them. I'll add compost to the list invite the boys to contribute. They will LOOOOOOOOOOOVE it!

  • Campanula UK Z8

    Ha ha - a 'French bath' in my household requires no soap and water whatsoever - merely a spritz of Chanel5 or whatever (pungent) perfume comes to hand).

    Nah Deanna - we have mixer taps (mostly) - we are just idle.

    I last wore deodorant about the same time I wore a bra - sometime back in 1971...and yep, 2 of my kids are non hair washers - and you are right, it really works. I have also never bathed the collie in her life and she always smells deliciously warm and furry - a delight to bury your nose in (although I have definitely thrown her in the river after rolling in fox poo).

    I often dilute urine 1>20 (the advantage of a bucket) and use it directly on plants as a fertiliser...but was truly surprised at the horrified response at my horticultural college in 2002. However, the Humanure Handbook sits upfront and proud on the bookshelves...and we have a composting toilet in the woods.

  • spedigrees z4VT

    Vinegar is a strong washing agent. I soak all fruits and veggies in a vinegar bath, then rinse and dry. It is also somewhat of an antibacterial and anti-fungal, even when rinsed off, and berries that have been through this wash & dry treatment resist mold much longer in the fridge, not as long as sugared berries (sugar being a *very* potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal) but sugared berries disintegrate into mushy juice pretty quickly whereas vinegar washed berries don't.

    However for myself and the pets I use shampoo (as a body & hair wash), the cheapest brand. I used to shower daily, but now in my old age, it is just too much of an effort, so I reserve showering for every few days or when human contact is expected. Since I live as a recluse, "human contact" can mean the guy coming to the house to clean the furnace or a trip to town to buy groceries. My dogs get bathed about once a month, and I'm working up to that this month, as soon as the sheltie is done shedding, and before the cold weather comes (because bathing with the warm water hose outdoors is so much easier than the bathtub) and before their upcoming vet apts.

    As to blood as a fertilizer, last winter my husband had to have a melanoma removed from his leg, and he had a drain in the wound for several months with a little plastic cup attached to the drain tube. I was tasked with emptying this cup of blood and goo several times daily. My house plants were the happy recipients of this nourishing mix! We both thought it was disgusting, but the plants sucked it up! You find fertilizer where it presents itself!

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Boy, has this thread taken an interesting turn of direction!! LOL!

    I admit to being a daily bather....sometimes twice daily. First, I look at my bath as a source of relaxation primarily. Getting clean is only a secondary concern but lounging in a hot bath with a scented, moisturizing bath oil is by far the cheapest and most entertaining pastime I can imagine. In the mornings, I am accompanied by my coffee and a book (and a dog very nearby) and in odd the evening (much less frequently), with a glass of wine (and the same dog and book).

    There is definitely a scent - usually described as "musty" - that is associated with older individuals. I remember my mother having such, even though she also bathed regularly. And I can often detect a slightly unpleasant aroma on myself in the mornings, so a bath is absolutely essential to removing any trace. As is an application of deodorant following......I would never rely on perfume to achieve a similar result. It is just one scent masking another. I am hugely turned off by B.O. and since I deal with the public daily, I would be appalled if anyone detected something other than a clean, fresh scent from me!! So it always a clean body and clean clothes to start the day.

    I also do not wash my hair daily either. I keep it short and a shower and shampoo once a week seems to keep it sufficiently clean and shiny. I do believe that too frequent showering/shampooing/bathing can rob the skin and hair of essential oils which is why I use a moisturizing bath oil and bath soap.

  • sunnyborders

    Am I the only one who thinks this sort of filler (detailing personal hygiene habits) doesn't belong in a Perennial Gardening Forum?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    As with any thread on any forum, the conversation can take a radical swing off topic. If it is not your cup of tea, simply don't respond. It will die a natural death in due time.........

  • sunnyborders

    GG, I do like your final comment.

    Still in the context of discussion about past contributors leaving Houzz, it's unfortunate that one has to read a bit before realizing it's not relevant to perennial gardening.

  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    Well, we are mentioning showering after gardening, so there's a twisty turns connection there.

    and, campanula, the French bath of perfume cracks me up!

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    It's been a while since there's been an actual conversation on this forum. Nice to see one show up again especially since it's been so dull lately. Please don't disappear this winter when things really get slow!

  • Marie Tulin

    A lot of things disappear under a thick layer of wool. Wool has a smell of its own, though. That wet dog smell.

  • Marie Tulin

    In truth, I'm enjoying the irrelevance and humor. It's been a while. Does anyone have ready access to Dog in Elk to repost?

  • Skip1909

    My wife got a fuzzy lop bunny from the shelter years ago. Of course, she developed an allergy to it after a couple weeks, so guess who ends up cleaning the cage all the time? Then she gets this recycled paper litter (YES YES YES) that has baking soda (NOOO) added to it, purposely so I can't compost it or spread it around the garden. She is a potted plant, bagged miracle grow soil person. Every week I just watch all this free compost go into the trash. I have been letting all her plants die in the garden and replacing them with my own.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    You can safely compost pet bedding that contains baking soda. There is not enough baking soda contained in that sort of product to be a detriment to the composting process and it will get broken down into its elements. It is even suggested that the baking soda treated newsprint bedding can be used as bedding for worms in a vermicomposting system.

    FWIW, there's not much that can't be safely composted :-)

  • Skip1909

    Gardengal thanks for that tip, that runs contrary to something I read somewhere (here maybe?) but ill give it a try. I'll pile it directly on the ground somewhere out of sight for a while before use.

  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    Maire, I have Dog in Elk bookmarked and looked at it last month. Should I post now or wait for the doldrums of January?

  • Marie Tulin

    Entirely up to you, unless there's an overwhelming response now. This thread may keep us going until January.

  • spedigrees z4VT

    Skip, if you have lilacs, they love limestone, wood ashes, and baking soda, anything alkaline in fact. When I "retire" a box of baking soda from my kitchen, it goes one of two places - to the bathroom for a second life as toothpaste or out to my lilac bushes. Lilacs would appreciate your baking soda infused pet bedding.

  • LaLennoxa

    Wow, leave your thread for a few minutes and it truly does go veering in all sorts of directions! For done reason, all the discussion of 'cleanliness' reminds me of that 'funky spunk' episode of a rather infamous television show a few years back - classic!

  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    Marie, we can always post it twice, I suppose. I'm in a post-summer, start-of-school silly stupor. Very sad to see my gardening days behind me mostly for this year and I find myself going to the boards all the time now, as if in mourning. So, here's a nice laugh:

    Dog in Elk

    LaLennoxa thanked deanna Maine 5b6a
  • LaLennoxa

    Okay, be warned, this is related, but not related, and there may be no mention of perennial within. Falls under interesting neighbour stories.

    When I first moved in, my next door neighbour must have worked for a bread plant or something, used to knock on my door and give me extra bread on a frequent basis. Actually, it was a little strange at times, because sometimes I would get back late from work (like around 10pm) and throw off my clothes, only to have the doorbell ring and see the neighbour holding up bread for me - they were watching and waiting for me to get in to give me bread! Anyway, a few years later they turned it into a rental space for university students, but they kept a room downstairs for themselves to pop in whenever they wanted. About this time, I noticed every now and then that pieces of bread would be dumped at the front. I assumed it was being done by the neighbour, wanting to use up excess bread. Didn't think much of it, but it did seem to be an ongoing thing.

    Fast forward to a few months ago - I noticed that it was the neighbour across the street, an older Portuguese woman, who brought the bread and dumped it there. Now I'm thinking, Strange, why is she dumping bread over there? Is it so that she can see the birds from across the street? I guess they must have some arrangement regarding this...Again, it's not on my property, so whatever. But what did make me really get a little freaked out was when I was out talking to another neighbour, and I noticed those chunks of bread being moved - not by birds, but mice!! Saw their dangling tail move from picking up the bread into the foundation area of the house!

    No sooner did we witness that, then a few days later, the following was posted on the fence railing:

    (You can actually see small remnant of bread in the above picture where it was normally placed, right in front the cedar.)

  • l pinkmountain

    The "ick" factor is huge with some people. That's just the way they are, germaphobic or whatever. My best friend's wonderful albeit slightly OCD hubby whom I love, washes my car whenever I come to visit them and park it outside their house in the driveway. He just can't bear to see the dirt and dust on it.

    LaLennoxa thanked l pinkmountain
  • Marie Tulin

    where does your neighbor live? I'll park in his driveway.

    LaLennoxa thanked Marie Tulin
  • LaLennoxa

    So, the latest with the neighbour and the compost. I saw her digging outside the other day and went over to talk with her. She went over about how she realized how garbage the fill was, and that her partner had "allowed" her to buy a Yimby (up until then I had no idea what that was, but she took me into the backyard to show me). Basically a tumbler composter, with a trendy name. She was so excited that supposedly it takes only six weeks from start to finish with no smell, or insects. I offered a smile of encouragement and then left her to the learning process :-)

  • dbarron

    Amazing, you should have congratulated her on mastering alchemy. Perhaps she'd turn some gold into lead for you also, if you asked nicely ?

    LaLennoxa thanked dbarron
  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    One day she will realize what she doesn't know. Then you step in and say, "Come, padawan. It is time to embrace The Horse (manure)." (Anybody with boys get the Star Wars reference? Huh? HA? HaHa?)

    LaLennoxa thanked deanna Maine 5b6a
  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri

    Camp, I REMEMBER that thread! It was on the soil/compost forum, wasn't it? Some things really stick in a person's memory.

    Alas, I too was past the age at which I could actively participate in that activity. Too bad, because it really sounded like a good idea. Also alas, I lived in an all-male household so I couldn't solicit help from housemates. (Wouldn't that have made an interesting conversation?)


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  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    DEANNATOBY....here's the gardenia thread for you! I remember it well.


    Suicidal gardenias!

    LaLennoxa thanked rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
  • Milly Rey

    Urine isn't sterile. That's an urban legend. If you have a disease, urine as well as feces can spread it. The risk is minimal because so little urine and feces get into our drinking water that the cycle is broken. If EVERYONE started peeing in their gardens, the old diseases would soon return.

    Anyway, the whole cycle of nature discussion reminded me of Han pig pen latrines:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_toilet

    Eat rice and pig. Poop in latrine. Pig eats poop. Spread pig poop on rice field.

    The circle of life!

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  • Milly Rey

    Delphiniums just taunt me here. It's just a bit too hot in the summer. I might be able to grow them in the backyard. Not the where I have sun in the front. Too close to the asphalt.

    LaLennoxa thanked Milly Rey
  • linnea56

    Have you seen that doctor on PBS specials who tells you to eat dirt? Beneficial soil microbes. Yogurt is not enough, kefir is not enough, fermented vegetables are not enough. Apparently soil microbes are where it’s at now. That’s easy for those who raise their own vegetables. He says just don’t wash them. As long as they are organic. And here I just thought I was lazy for not washing what I pick if I want to eat it right away in the yard.

    I have a new dermatologist. Her written instructions for everyone are to bathe as little as possible. She says most people don’t need to slather themselves with moisturizers. Just wash less often and you won’t need them. She says to shower no more than once a week and if you wash your face in the morning to use only plain water.

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  • Campanula UK Z8

    Yay - vindication for filthy filthoids. It's true - I am grubby, yet unwrinkled (an avid hat wearer). True, every other part of me betrays hard years and harder living (hands and feet and teeth are a disgrace and hair turned grey years ago)...but I have an iron immune system and decent skin.

    LaLennoxa thanked Campanula UK Z8
  • spedigrees z4VT

    Did this doctor also name all the various parasites that can use this convenient method of transportation to enter your digestive tract? Word to the wise, wash those vegetables and don't eat dirt.

    LaLennoxa thanked spedigrees z4VT
  • LaLennoxa

    I have a new dermatologist. Her written instructions for everyone are to bathe as little as possible...She says to shower no more than once a week...

    I wonder how all this works with the "laws of attraction"? You smell really skunky tonight honey, let's get it on?

  • deanna Maine 5b6a

    During our days of poverty when my husband was in school in the deep south, when my oldest was 3, I looked out the window and saw her feeding her sister, just over a year old, spoonfuls of dirt. The doctor had prescribed Little Sister medicine, and Little Sister was gullible. She's rarely sick. Did it work? I don't know. I tend the thing that around that same time when we were at an arm-pit blazingly hot junky cheap traveling fair in August and a kind lady called my attention to this same Little Sister squatting on the ground eating a discarded hamburger in the middle of the fairway that had been trampled by who-could-ever-know...she didn't die, so she's got to have the immune system of Superman now.

    LaLennoxa thanked deanna Maine 5b6a
  • tete_a_tete

    Interesting thread this. I worried that it might be narky, fists banging on the table demanding that people take the advice, but it's in a lower key which I like.

    'The funny thing with my scenario, is that I think she got thrown off by
    what composting actually is - maybe when she saw the flies and maggots
    on the top of the pile of rotting food and organic matter.'

    Interesting point, this. These days people don't grow up with their hands in mud making mud pies, having been turfed out of the house to go and play. It's all electronic rot. Sad I reckon. And all that marketing everywhere we are and almost everywhere we go. My father said decades ago how harmful it is to us all.

    And now, as if it couldn't get any worse, fake grass is springing up. My neighbour had no front garden the other day. Then an attractive retaining wall grew, slowly (by todays standards) and carefully. It looked very nice and they'd taken with it. I went out. When I came back, three trees had sprung up at a height of about six or seven feet high and a bright green 'lawn' lay basking in the sun. Instant garden.

    I couldn't help but say to my partner, "That isn't gardening..." I wasn't being critical, I just felt perplexed.

    LaLennoxa thanked tete_a_tete
  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    I just happened to look back at this thread and it occurred to me that I'M the person who just can't be helped!

    I plant things after being told it's pointless, I nurse things along which should be tossed, I plant spreaders after being warned they spread.... Maybe it's the stubborn in me or the stupid, but I really have trouble following better advice.

    LaLennoxa thanked katob Z6ish, NE Pa
  • LaLennoxa

    Interesting thread this. I worried that it might be narky, fists banging on the table demanding that people take the advice, but it's in a lower key which I like.

    Certainly, I don't think I started the thread with that intention :-). It was more an observation of people who seem to want help - in fact, ask you for help - but perhaps they don't like the answers...and run away fast! A few years ago I was talking with a visitor, and I think I mentioned something like how I used manure in the garden at some point, and she said quite seriously something like, "Remind me not to eat vegetables from your garden" - which just about made me burst out laughing. I mean, I guess she has never been to a farm. I guess people want to sanitize the process so much, and then they wonder why things are sterile.

  • tete_a_tete

    No, LaLennoxa, you were definitely nice and polite, it was just the heading that made me wonder for a split second.

    Someone above suggested that it takes a while to digest information. Especially unexpected information. And I guess we mostly expect complicated answers but really, the answer is usually simple.

    LaLennoxa thanked tete_a_tete
  • rouge21_gw (CDN Z6)

    I mentioned something like how I used manure in the garden at some point, and she said quite seriously something like, "Remind me not to eat vegetables from your garden"

    Maybe she was thinking you were using less than 4 month old 'manure' in your veggie garden.

    LaLennoxa thanked rouge21_gw (CDN Z6)
  • spedigrees z4VT

    There is manure, and then there is manure. Manure from an omnivore or a carnivore is a big yech, while manure from an herbivore is gold. Dog and fox poop goes into deep pits dug with a post hole digger, at a distance from all gardens. It fertilizes the land in a sort of indirect route. Poop from horses, cattle, deer, and rabbits on the other hand goes on the vegetable and flower beds. As long as it isn't directly touching a plant, un-aged excrement will break down with no ill effects in the same way that compost ingredients placed on top or just under the soil surface will break down into compost.

    LaLennoxa thanked spedigrees z4VT
  • linnea56

    I once took a transactional analysis class where we learned to “translate” what people say when they are not saying what they really mean.

    Many of these people you cannot help fall into the “Yes, but….” category. I have had countless friends who have an answer for why whatever you are suggesting won’t work for them. Yet they keep asking. I’ve found myself doing it as well at times.

    They say they want advice but many really just want validation for what they are already doing. If someone always has a similar rebuttal they are “Yes, but….” people.

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  • Cathy Kaufell

    I always told folks that the secret to a beautiful garden is the soil. They should stop trying to grow plants but instead grow good soil. The soil will take care of the plants.

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  • spedigrees z4VT

    I think the translation of much of the "Yes, but..." crowd's remarks are not a request for affirmation of what they are currently doing (they know that isn't working) but rather a request for a clean and easy solution (heavy on the "clean") like "Just go buy a bag of Marvelous Magic Grow Crystals, sprinkle them on your garden, and it will transform clay into rich black top soil overnight."

    LaLennoxa thanked spedigrees z4VT
  • tete_a_tete

    Yes, I agree spedigrees. Many people want the solution to be something that can be bought.


    LaLennoxa thanked tete_a_tete

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