austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The solar thrill that turns on chlorophyll

Moving a plant is not a chore to be rushed. You wouldn't want to rush it even if you didn't have other chores to do. Without the proper preparation and technique even replanting a small pine tree could cause the Moon to tumble out of its orbit. (How is left as an exercise to the student.)

You should warn the plant as early as possible that it will be moved. Moving is a traumatic experience, and plants need time to appreciate the friends they're going to be torn from and to dread the new cliques into which they will be plunged, friendless and unprotected, just before the end of the school year. Remember to insist the plant has a say in the move, but not one which would make you alter your plans. If you haven't got any plants you can pick up orphaned or abandoned plants in many stores, but it's better to pick up one free at your local plant shelter. And remember to not let your plants breed uncontrollably while there is such a large feral population.

To prepare a spot for the plant to be moved to, you'll need a location. While there are ideas to let one to grow plants without any particular location through the magic of hydroponics, in practice this means growing four spindly lima beans in foam-injected cups while in second grade, and it cannot be done outside that environment. Next you'll need to dig a roughly circular cylindrical hole for the plant. This is best done with a post-hole digger, which may be grossly oversized for this task but which is really fun to lift in the air and toss down with a satisfying chunk, to pull and twist around, and to scoop up a capsule of dirt. (Warning: only do this on dirt-based surfaces.) It scoops out these beautifully smooth rounded walls perfect for suicidal worms, and it just feels so much better than using shovels or even those little hand-held shovels you call trowels although you suspect they're really garden spades. You do need a post-hole digger, though, and you can't wander into the grocery store and go to the ``P'' section and buy the first one you see that's on sale. They'll be filed under ``D'' for ``digger'' unless, of course, your grocery store relies on Reverse Polish Notation, in which case it's back to ``P''.

Keep digging until the hole is twice as wide and about a hand's width deeper than the pot or bag of your plant, or until you find a deep sense of inner tranquility that comes from pretending you're a hydraulic pile driver. If you choose the later, continue pretending until you realize you have never known what pile drivers are meant to accomplish except for temporarily smashing flat cute animal cartoon characters like Daffy Duck and being themselves smashed beyond repair when driven onto the mighty skull of Popeye the Sailor Man. If you do investigate you might find that pile drivers are used to drive ``piles'', that is, long cylinders of some stern material, deep into the soil so as to be a better foundation for large construction than the dirt would be. If you learn that, you might begin to consider how much of the world is filled with ordinary but clever things you never began to consider, which makes the plant to be moved seem a very provincial concern. So it may be better to just stop digging when the hole is big enough.

Having emptied out a hole more than large enough for the plant, now fill it up using the removed dirt and some peat moss -- which despite its name is not a moss, but is rather an archipelago -- until there's not enough room for the plant. Now remove it from its pot or bag (if it's not in a pot or bag you should buy one that fits) and put it in what's left of the hole, then cover it up, stamp the soil flat around it, and water the plant until it launches its lifeboats, then try to not worry about it. The plant will make arrangements for itself.

Trivia: Calvin Coolidge enjoyed having his head rubbed with Vaseline while he ate breakfast in bed. Source: Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941, Michael E Parrish. (That's what it says!)

Currently Reading: The Men Who Stare At Goats, Jon Ronson.


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