I may not have the prettiest garden I’ve ever grown and, for sure, I have downsized, both in terms of square footage and the number of vegetable varieties I used to grow by about half, but I do have the cleanest little vegetable patch I’ve ever had.
It’s still more than 2,500 square feet, thanks to the best friend a man could ever have. Actually, Ralph King and I are more like brothers than just being close friends and business partners over the last 35 years. Suffice to say that none of our ventures have ever gone to trade on the public stock market and we’ve never been tempted to sell ourselves out to venture capitalists even though we were once described, by the regional press, as the “Snow pea barons of central Kentucky.”
You didn’t have to grow more than a couple acres of snow peas to saturate the market for a few weeks back then. The problem was getting them picked before migrant farm workers started showing up to rescue what was and still is left of Kentucky’s agriculture economy.
Ralph and I tried to hire high school kids to pick peas at more than double the minimum wage. Unfortunately, the outside temperature was approaching 90 degrees in June when the peas came in, whereupon we discovered that our labor force was generally willing to work about an hour before resigning, collecting their pay and then retiring to the Berea City swimming pool.
Anyway, Ralph showed up at my place in mid May, towing his big new, rear-tine tiller and proceeded to fix me up a garden patch some 50×75 feet and I now have it crammed full of veggies. And there’s not a weed in it. I haven’t fired up a tiller since Ralph was here even though morning glories, lamb’s quarter, hog weed, and sundry other nuisances sprouted up thicker than the hair on a dog’s back within a week of Ralph’s endeavor.
But my buddy also gave me what I now call The Miracle Hoe. Ralph has never, ever seen a new gardening implement without exclaiming, “I gotta have me one of them,” so a year or so ago he was in a hardware store in Stanford and they had this hoe-handled tool hanging on the wall and Ralph asked ‘em what it was for. And the guy who owns the place told him it was supposed to be some kind of gardening tool but it had been hanging there for over 20 years because nobody had any idea how to go about using it.
And that’s like playing Ralph’s favorite song, “Something to Figure Out”. And, of course, he did just that in pretty short order. At that point in time I was rather impressed because the blade would cut and dig in any direction you pushed or pulled it, but it was light as a feather and, frankly, did not seem hefty enough to do any serious cultivation.
But Ralph left it with me when he finished plowing because, as he said, “Even a one-armed man can use this thing.”
As you know, I am essentially one-armed since having the stroke. But over the last six weeks, I have learned how to do more work, twice as fast, using only my right arm than I was ever able to do with the Amish Hoe that I had previously considered to be the best garden tool ever invented. I can and do go through my garden almost effortlessly as fast as I can wobble and weeds don’t have a prayer. Morning glory sprouts just wilt and die when they see me coming with my Miracle Hoe.
So last night I was on the phone with Ralph and I told him that we needed figure out a way to manufacture mass market this thing, because I am convinced that sales would put the pocket fisherman and the banjo minnow to absolute shame.