The Mushroom Farmer, Chapter 9

One important step the mf left out is tilling the soil.

This is bad.

It means the roots of the not only kale but also spinach and broccoli he planted on the median between the sidewalk and street in front of his house will struggle.

Oh, those roots will thrive initially, sure. Planted in peat moss, seeds will root, root, root. For a while, everything will be winter veggie wonderland.

Until the roots confront the reality of clay-y soil.

Then.

What?

The mf wonders if he could gently sweep the seeds over to one side while he tills the soil beneath the peat moss layer two shovel blades deep. That oughtta be deep enough to allow the roots to fulfill their destinies.

It has only been three days since planting. Spinach and kale germinate in about five days; broccoli in two weeks. He could theoretically do some gentle seed nudging.

What’s the use of doing it in theory, though? The mf has a strong bias towards action. He’s going to retro-till right now. Maybe he will meet some neighbors out walking their dogs or walking themselves. He can say howdy and see how they are coping with Los Angeles being the epicenter of the global pandemic.

*

Well, that was quick.

Another reminder that not all of the mf’s ideas are good ideas.

Sweeping the peat moss out from under already-germinating seedlings?

What was he thinking.

Two shovel blades deep?

Maybe next time, when the mf would remember to till the soil before planting. Why did he forget this time? Oh, this pandemic has people in a tizzy, even people who seem not to be in a tizzy.

This time, he settled for a little micro-tilling, getting the blade down one blade deep and wriggling it like his own personal earthquake. It wasn’t much but it would have to do; or, as the mf suspected, undo.

Meanwhile, while on the side of his house facing the outside world, he did meet a white man who walked a black dog, but not the entire cast of “A Hard Rains a-Gonna Fall,” the mf’s go-to song about facing end times. And it wasn’t like he really met the guy as in their souls merged. Solidly built guy in his forties, walking a little black doggie. The conversation went like this:

MF: Howdy.

GUY: (giving him the once-over in his sweatpants and look-at-me-purple polka dotted socks) Hi.

Not exactly a merging of souls.

But nonetheless, a start.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

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