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The Importance of Good Soil

September 3, 2009
George tastes one of his melons.

George tastes one of his melons.

George grew watermelons this summer. I bought seeds, and he helped me find places to plant them.

A couple ended up next to the mail box. Some went in a ceramic pot on the driveway. Others wound up in the hard clay around a tree stump. Still others went in the rich soil of our former herb garden.

Every day after George came home from day care, he watered the seeds and checked for growth. In a few days, green shoots appeared, then vines.

All the vines got about the same amount of water and sunlight, so it soon became apparent that the soil made all the difference. The ones in the dense parched clay in the front yard were small and anemic. The vine in the pot became root bound, stunting the plant’s growth.

Monster vine yields one of four healthy melons.

Monster vine yields one of four healthy melons.

The vine at the mailbox was healthy. But outshining them all was the one in the former herb plot. Like Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors,” it fed and thrived, spilling over the steps leading to the backyard and overflowing onto the driveway.

Dean cursed the monster vine for getting in the way of his lawn mowing. George and I measured the progress of its four melons.

When they were about the size of volleyballs, we watched the curly pigtails closest to the melons to turn dark — the sure sign, my dad said, that they were ripe.

George hands me a small melon.

George hands me a small melon.

It was fun to watch the vines do their work. We provided water. Nature provided sunlight and bees to pollinate the yellow flowers.

All we had to do was select where to plant the seeds and remember to water them.

The less vibrant vines also produced fruit — edible, but seedy and as small as baseballs. But the biggest, sweetest melons came from the huge, healthy vines.

We now have a kitchen counter loaded with watermelons. The challenge now will be to eat them all. Good thing we have a lot of neighbors.

Don’t think good soil matters? Ask my son, the melon farmer!

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