My Cancer Story Ch. 98 “Gardening 101”

Chapter 98: “Gardening 101”

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“The Mayan Prophecy” was a mere handful of months away, and wouldn’t you know it? I was only now diving into my goal of making movies. If the past eight or nine years weren’t enough time to achieve said objective, then the only movies I would “make” would be the ones I wrote to appease the mutant monsters that would overrun the post-apocalyptic landscape. Timing was never my thing.


Speaking of timing, a revelation had only now struck me while visiting my Dad up North; we were terrible kids. We gave our parents such grief and even cost them hundreds of dollars because we were idiots, especially when Travis and I were living with just my Dad. We spent so much of our time fighting and the rest sitting in front of our respective televisions, “rotting our brains” on CRT screens rather than spending time with Dad, learning the ins and outs of cars, or simple gardening.

Time travel hadn’t been invented yet, as far as I knew, and so, I aimed to correct the transgressions of my past by getting back into gardening.


Only, where would I plant anything? I was living in a duplex with my and Deirdre’s landlord, Sue, with no land of my own. Since Sue was so chill, I figured it was worth a try, and knocked on her door asking if I could use the planters around the house. She was more than happy to allow me use of the space, and thus began the planning stage.


What to plant? I have to plant the classics that I grew up devouring! Carrots, tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, green beans, potatoes! It all has to be here! I always loved (most) vegetables. The one thing Travis and I did assist Dad with in regards to gardening was the consumption of our (read: HIS) harvest. I ate numerous vegetables alongside all of the junk, and my love (and palette) only grew with age.


I scoured YouTube and any online “Green Thumb” blog to find the best practices to give my freshman attempt a healthy head start with advanced gardening techniques. I made a Lowe’s shopping list with as much fervor as a fat boy readying a visit to the candy store.


I purchased my supplies and dug into the ground, only to discover that the dirt comprising the flower box was predominantly clay, and much harder than expected. I hand-dug the earth and went back to Lowe’s to buy more Miracle-Gro bags of soil. I must have spent almost two hundred dollars in that first few weeks, some of which, aided my climbing credit card balance.


My planting list was reined back after inspecting the accessible land, and so, I only planted a few cucumbers, some carrots, and a couple of pea plants.


I spent one Saturday in the dirt, for the first time since I mulled about with my metal Tonka trucks as a kid. By the afternoon’s end, I had a twelve by three feet planter full and experienced a true sense of accomplishment.


I kept a careful watch on my garden as the week progressed, watering it every day, even using warmer water (as suggested online) to prevent shock. This side of the house didn’t get as much sun as the seed packages or websites recommended, but it was only shy an hour. I knew that the yield may not be where I anticipated, but it was my first year anyway! Everything was great, and by five days in, I began to see the first few sprouts; they were cucumbers! On the very next day, however, we had a massive rainstorm, and my burgeoning crop had drowned under the roof runoff. My garden was ruined.


With all of the rain we got in Maine, there was no way this spot would ever work. I needed a new place to grow, or I would have to sit this summer season out.


Then, I looked over to a section of grass in front of the storage shed. The grass was weak, it received ample amounts of sunshine, and Sue always hated mowing that part of the lawn. I could easily borrow my co-worker’s tiller to retrofit it into a perfect spot for a garden! But would Sue be okay with that? I know, she was chill, but everyone has their limit.


I, again, knocked on her door and asked her. She said yes despite my expected hesitation! I hadn’t been that excited for a woman to say yes since Deirdre did last year. I asked Sue, as a show of thanks, if I could grow any one thing for her, what would it be? She happily mentioned that she loved fresh green beans.


“Done deal!”


The next day, I borrowed the tiller and got to work. Soon, I had a plot of land twelve by eight feet tilled into the grass and re-evaluated my growth chart. I found a “companion plant chart” online and made sure to grow my plants according to the most compatible neighboring vegetables.


This iteration of the garden was a wild success compared to the first attempt. Everything grew wonderfully, even though I got a tad greedy with the spacing of the plants, including the carrots and my refusal to properly thin them out.


With every passing hour I spent in the garden, I found myself more relaxed and rested. I was one with the dirt again, and this time, I wasn’t just playing in it, but utilizing it to grow life.


Brandon laughed at my obsession with this garden and balked at the amount of money I had spent to initiate the process. I always told him that the initial start-up cost would seem overwhelming, but the majority of the price tag was due to the fact that I was starting from scratch. I didn’t even have a rake before this summer.


Nevertheless, I decided to lean into this idea, and parody my new passion with a Guttersnipes comedy video. And with that, another life grew out of the garden and of our comedy troupe; “Jamie’s Garden.”



At the end of the season, I had a modest yield and a modicum of experience in the gardening world. When word got around at work of my new green thumb, a co-worker, Linda, came by to offer me an opportunity.


“My boyfriend and I are getting too old to maintain a garden of our own, especially one our size, and we were wondering if next year you would like to help us till and manage the garden. We would give you half the space to do with what you want.”


The decision didn’t take me long; honestly, I knew I could grow MUCH more with two gardens! I said yes, and I went over to introduce myself to her longtime boyfriend, Jack. They invited me over for supper one night, and we got to know each other. They had been gardening for most of their lives, and I was jazzed to be learning from such experts.


So, I suppose my next “summer course” would be Gardening 102.


-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)

This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.

The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writerI’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.

Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.

And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.

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8 thoughts on “My Cancer Story Ch. 98 “Gardening 101”

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