Putrescence in the Garden

June 14th, 2010


I have a perennial bed on the South side of the house by the deck.  Along with flowers, I also have a few clumps of tall grass planted in this area.  Earlier this Spring, one of the clumps of grass died.  I dug it up leaving a large hole in the garden.  Over time, that hole seemed to fill in.  I added a bit of mulch to it as well, to even it out.

Last week, I decided to fill in all the bare places in that particular perennial bed by planting some sunflower seeds.  I had a handful of seeds and was smashing them into the damp earth in all the blank areas and I decided to also plant several seeds in the empty space left by the former grass clump.  Crouching in between several prickly perennials with a hand full of seeds, I poked my index finger into the hole to create a well for the seed, only to have my hand sink in to the ground to my wrist.  The dirt in that hole was completely different than the dirt in any other part of that bed.  It was ‘loose’.  Like a loose stool.  Because it was a loose stool.  Some animal had been using the grass hole as their own personal loo.  On my knees, wrist deep in excrement, a few sunflower seeds tumbled from my hand. As I pulled my hand back out, the seeds were properly buried.  You will be happy to know that they are thriving.


We keep an old metal milk pail on the deck to collect food scraps for the compost pile.  Usually the pail is filled with vegetable parings, but this time that pail was also filled with rain water.  Last night, I carried the sloshing bucket to the compost pile careful not to let it spill onto my legs.  As I upended the bucket into the compost, a loud sucking sound was followed by a great gush of liquid. Evidently the veggies had formed a plug over a well of gritty, yellow water that smelled of sick baby diarrhea.  As I poured the bucket into the compost, it sloshed against my hands and arms landing on my shoes and ankles as it hit the uneven contents of the compost. I tried not to think about what it was that I had just been showered in as I turned on the hose frantically using the nozzle as a scrubber to GET THAT CRAP OFF OF ME!


Both of these instances as well as a few others have made me want to walk away from gardening forever and move into an vacuum sealed container where shrink wrapped meals are delivered to me thrice daily by robots wearing rubber gloves and hair nets.  They reek of institutionalized soap and heavy duty bleach making my nostrils burn, but I am intoxicated by their scent.  I want to roll in it.  I want to SWIM in it!  Because I am just not sure that a garden fresh tomato is worth being regularly bathed in mother nature’s loamy shit.


  • km:

    Aw Geez Rechelle, it’s a bit early in the morning for me to read that kinda thing:)

  • susan:

    as usual you make me laugh Rechelle. Now km’s response DOES remind me of my sister and its a bit early in the morning to be reminded of her.

  • NCGal:


  • barb:

    OMG!! LOL!!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Thanks! I was starting to feel a little hungry, but I think I can wait now.

  • Kay in KCMO:

    The visual of hairnet-wearing robots is cracking me up! Because, you know, why would they need hairnets? They’re robots!! This is going to stay with me all day, I can tell.

    Also, to avoid another compost bucket fiasco, maybe drill a few holes in the bottom so the rainwater can drain out. Your description was just, shall we say, descriptive. Blech is right. Not enough hand sanitizer in the world…

  • bPer:

    Kay, the problem with that idea is that you’d get compost ‘tea’ leaking out on the deck, and probably under the deck too. That’d smell about as the same as the compost pile itself. Some people might object. Then again, it might also drive off any door-to-door Baptist proselytizers. :)


  • Nanc in Ashland:

    Just be thankful there weren’t any ROUSes! I hear you on the compost bucket stink–bleh!

  • I feel so much better about paying the Super Target for my vegetables, now!

  • Another Lee:

    Wow. Thanks to that visual description, we don’t even need a photograph. I repeat – we do NOT need a picture!

  • Jennifer:

    ahhhh, nature!

  • GA in GA:

    No raccoons or o’possums out your way? Our would have deftly handled your open compost container – it would be empty.

    As for the, eh, fertilizer . . . could the show cats be helping your garden?

    It is so hot and humid here that any dirt from gardening is washed off by heavy perspiration.

  • Kristin:

    Heard a story recently about a woman who was asking at the garden center for flowers that don’t attract bees…hmmm, wonder if she knows how the flowers get there in the first place. Maybe you could have some of those in your vacuum sealed world. Though I guess it wouldn’t really be necessary as the seal would keep them out anyway.

  • Spinny:

    Nanc in Ashland: Just be thankful there weren’t any ROUSes!

    Rodents of Unusual Size? I don’t believe they exist.

  • Nanc in Ashland:

    Shhhh, Spinny! Don’t say it out loud!

  • Crap….literally.

    Man Rechelle.
    Some days I wish you writing skills were not so descriptive and so ‘there…in the moment’…..!
    You really got me puckered girl!


  • sd:

    I think I’ll go take another shower now…

  • kathy:

    All I can say is, ewww! My sympathy,I would have ralphed!

  • Clay:

    Ah, tis spring, and a lady’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of . . . putrescence.

    One of the mind exercises in Zen is to meditate on the loathsomeness of death and such other crap. Sounds like a good strategy to keep us grounded and balanced.

  • Trudy:

    While my crazy dog lived, she buried new sanitary napkins and any candy bar she could find in the garden throughout the fall and winter. When I would do the spring cleanup….I would find the treasures. We couldn’t cut grass until we did a scan to make sure we weren’t going to spew cotton everywhere……it wasn’t putrified, but a lovely find all the same.

  • I feel your pain! I hate it when the compost bins do that. And it’s always at the WORST timing. Like when you just want to quick dump it before running out on the town so the house doesn’t start to collect that compost stink. Sure enough, there’s a “prize” waiting in the bottom…

    (Yeow. Re-reading that? What are we talking about – compost? Or BMs?)

  • Fran:

    I have just been catching up on your gardening entries. I totally feel your disgust with the things we do to eat a homegrown tomato. I spent a good bit of yesterday fertilizing my little garden with fish emulsion, in other words fish poop. Does it ever stink!!! I read in some gardening book last year that it was the best fertilizer to use, then spent weeks this spring looking for it. I finally found it while visiting my sister in a neighboring state, at which time she told me that it was my dad’s job to fertilize all of our stepmother’s humongous house plants with fish emulsion. That should give further proof of the evil stepmother myth! I did learn enough from the first time that I used the emulsion to mix it with water outside instead of in my kitchen. Two showers later and I still seem to reek of fish poop. I’m off to buy the strongest bubble bath I can find!