By the Right Frontal Lobe of the Great Sky Demon -

Brin J. Thornton, Head of Gardening at Lackham College of Agriculture in Chippenham, Wiltshire, Great Britain is this guy I know. Because of a 10lb 9.5oz citron he grew, he is now being considered for tenure.

You may be filled with envy, but understand one thing: As a universal truth, when prepared, giant organics taste like recycled rubber par-boiled in lard. My theory of why, with a complete lack of credible, scientific methodology, is this: A gardener seeking 'Humongoids' trades function for form in karmic retribution. Sure, he has a giant pumkin, but he can't feed himself. His wife, who did all the cooking, has left him for spending too much time with the pumkin. Simple. And yet, he will strive to continue, year-after-year, mutation-upon-insulting-to-Jesus-mutation.

Trust me, this is not the life for you. However, normal-sized produce IS within striking distance of your citified-grasp, and all you need to succeed is to pay attention.

It takes a certain type of human to successfully produce a plot of purposeful vegetation, i.e., a 'Garden.' For starters, the human must have complete control of BOTH thumbs. This is key. One does not cut the mustard greens in the great backyard with only a vague awareness of opposable digits - there must be a working comprehension of the tools at hand. Also, the human must have a dispossable income. Plants need more than sunlight and soil, contrary to everything your knocked-up and ignorant second-grade teacher told you during that fieldtrip to a hamburger farm.

In addition to the natural elements mentioned above, there are, of course, the necessary 'other' supplies. Top-shelf, organic cow manure. A soil thermometer to detect early frosts. SPF35 lotion to slather on melons to prevent splitting. Food Spikes (never feed after midnight), insecticides, herbacides, a compost barrel and compost (easily purchased at your local big box store). And don't forget the concrete center-piece: a faux, three-legged mule deer with optional saddle, or perhaps a sleeping gnome with a jaunty hat. Your choice. Even your hydration choices come with a price tag. Truly cultured plants will imbide only Evian, if it is still being bottled. If not, Perrier. Should you be bold and attempt the oft whispered miracle of Corona Light, remember I warned you. It was never intended for YOUR plants.


Additionally, a garden will thrive only if it has a stereophonic system to keep it distracted. I recommend Magnavox. Using a playlist of primarily Sinatra and Martin, you can garner positive results from most flora. However, if you have planted Pink Princess Astilbe (Astilbe arendsii roseus) as a butterfly attractant, you will need to insert a Bad Brains cover every seven tracks or so in the loop for optimal results.

Once you have aligned your elements into a well-crafted microcosm, it's time to play the proud mother hen, stroking and prodding your babies to adulthood. Should a hornworm slither across a budding branch, pinch off its head and let it fall lifeless from your fingers to the rich soil below. Its rebel corpse will serve as a warning to other pests that may be gathering forces of their own, and on the positive side, the rotting carcass makes an excellent fertilizer suppliment.

Should the ground become dry, water it. If it becomes swamp-like, insert the business end of a wet-vac into the dirt and suction away the excess moisture. Attention to detail and proficient use of your tools during these three months will result in a hearty and healthy crop.

When your produce is ripe, pick it. You might now ask yourself, was all of the toil worth it? Was the car payment spent nurturing five $1.99 plants to maturity well vested? From experience, I can say without hesitation... yes. The satisfaction of harvest feels like the rapture of childbirth - each fruit separating from the vine like a newborn removed by cesaerean section.

With each slice of juicy tomato falling onto a pile of cottage cheese and bacon strips, you will feel complete - able to say, in a proud and god-like voice, 'I made that.'

Next year, plan for cucumbers.