Dig, Hippie, Dig! by
(24 Stories)

Prompted By The Garden

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In my hippie days I lived on a communal farm in Olympia, Washington. I, of all people, a city girl from New York, somehow got the job of planting and nursing the garden. Being a relatively cooperative sort, I didn’t argue, though I knew my hair would frizz in the damp air (my biggest concern back then.)  I just got out some gardening books, bought some seed packets and a shovel and started digging. First I needed to create the garden before I could even think of planting. That meant manually digging up a patch of land about 12’x12′. Fortunately, it rained so much up there that the ground was always soft and easy to till. And I was young and strong. The soil was a delicious chocolate brown, rife with squirmy earthworms who seemed not all that happy about being unearthed. You couldn’t wait for a sunny day to dig or plant in Washington, so I’d pull on my rubber boots and rain parka and go to work. I can still feel the weight of the mud and water on my jeans when I got up to move from spot to spot. It didn’t occur to me to wear gloves; I just dug my hands into the ground. The damp earth and I became as one. I planted the seeds in semi-straight lines and grew excited as my three-year-old daughter and I watched the  seedlings poke up through the surface and begin to look like the pictures on the seed packets. Lettuce, tomatoes, squash, peas, green beans, strawberries, nasturtiums, calendula–I pored over the gardening books in the evenings looking for ways to mulch and for natural methods to keep critters out of my garden. Unfortunately for them, they found their way into my rich Garden of Eden anyway. And when I saw the little black slimy things eating my strawberries and the big fat ugly yellow slugs sliming around my romaine, I immediately set out pie plates of beer and a border wall of salt (oops! That sounds a little Trump-y, doesn’t it!) which put an end to their evil encroachments and left the yummy vegetables to flourish and fill the plates of our families. My daughter, however, has never forgiven me for dehydrating the slugs and snails. But being as she has long been a vegetarian, I hold out hope that she will someday forgive me.

Profile photo of Penny K Penny Righthand

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Wonderful Penny, it’s about nurturing your garden but it’s really about nurturing yourself and your daughter, isn’t it?

    This city girl/weekend gardener has also discovered the wonders of watching her veggies grow – altho a fellow gardener with a plot near mine posted a scorecard :
    MAN – 0
    WEEDS – 100

  2. Suzy says:

    Wonderful gardening story, Penny! There were so many stories on The Garden prompt from people who don’t like to garden, or say they have a black thumb, that I’m delighted to read about your successful garden. Nice to know that the beer and salt really worked to get rid of the pests. I bet that by now your daughter has forgiven you, especially if she has done any gardening herself.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Love this story, Penny. Great description that even a non-gardener like me can appreciate.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    As a non-gardener, I really appreciated your vivid description of the rich soil and your connection to all the natural aspects of planting and growing your own food, even learning how to rid yourself of the pests. It all sounds so satisfying.

  5. This sentence alone made this narrative worth reading (but the rest was good too): “The soil was a delicious chocolate brown, rife with squirmy earthworms who seemed not all that happy about being unearthed.” I like the humorous word play of contrasting “earth” and “unearthed,” while implying that these worms actually have personalities and opinions about what is befalling them, the consonance of “Squirmy earthworms,” and the use of delicious as well as “chocolate brown” to characterize soil. Applause.

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