Poison patch: the sequel

In two years, our massive backyard garden patch, once bursting with the kind of insidious hemlock that killed Socrates, has gone from this:

To this:

To this:

No chemicals. No rentals of industrial farm equipment. Just black plastic + the heat and humidity of a Massachusetts summer. Shazam!

After much paranoia and speculation and Googling and overthinking — that is what we do, here at Casa de Plantkiller — we have decided this completely vegetation-free dirt is not going to kill us. From what I have read about hemlock… when you see it, you’re supposed to pull it up and dispose of it like hazardous waste. Not treat the soil like it has seven years of bad luck. (That’s for you, poison ivy.)

So we’re going to plant some stuff and pray that our first frost date is NOT October 5. And that we instead are blessed with one of those balmy, muggy, lingering summery-falls that New England sometimes bestows. (I am presently clinging to a much-treasured memory of doling out Halloween candy, sitting out on my stoop in East Boston in a T-shirt. Bring us that fall, please.)

Once we decided the dirt itself wasn’t poisonous, my superhuman husband pulled out all the 3-foot rebar stakes that were holding the garden’s railroad ties in place — you know, should that big tornado finally hit. (Did I mention a previous owner drove 30-plus metal stakes into the garden? And that they were lodged so firmly my poor husband had to go buy some special kind of wrench to wiggle them back and forth and work them loose from the hard clay deep below? Uff da! As my grandma would say.)

I spent today making little seed-growing trays, something I should have done a long time ago, but… na ja. Bygones. It was very fun. I found some cool covered trays at Agway. I made a few more from my huge collection of old plant containers. I will plant the little buggers, if/when they sprout and hope for the best. Hopefully, we will get at least a little spinach out of the deal.

Most importantly, it’s a start. A wee toe in the water. And if none of these plants work out, hey — I’ll be more confident about starting seeds next spring. I even got a few packets of sunflowers today, in anticipation.

My garden is kind of like the Red Sox; there’s always next year…


About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
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6 Responses to Poison patch: the sequel

  1. LaNeia says:

    You can fit so many raised beds in that area. Is that what you are planning to plant?

  2. plantkiller says:

    No, we’re going into the dirt! It now seems crazy to build raised beds on a bunch of rich, barren soil full of worms. But we’ll see what happens! No way to lose, at this time of year. It’s an experiment.

  3. nivram says:


  4. Heather says:

    Awesome! And actually, I’ve heard that when you plant spinach in the fall it comes back to life bigtime in the spring, so I’m about to plant some spinach myself! Also, fall is the time to plant garlic! I’ll be doing that for the first time this year too!

  5. plantkiller says:

    Yes, I’ve been reading you can plant (and replant) all kinds of stuff in fall. I always feel like I’m late to the game in the garden, but what the hell? The point is to have fun and try. 🙂 I had fun making my seed trays! Learning…

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