Gardening and Cooking Organically with

Five Lakes’ Own Rapidly Ripening Earth Mother, Soila Lohme



Dear Soila,

   When I planted tulip bulbs several years ago, I knew I would need to dig them up and replant them from time to time.

   But lately, they’ve been pushing themselves up through the soil. 

   I even found a couple on top of the ground the other day.

   Is this normal? 

   Is it something chipmunks might do for fun?

   Or maybe because they think my bulbs are taking up too much space?

   And since it’s summertime, don’t I have to wait to replant them? 

   And if so, what’s the best place to store them? 

   Do I need complete darkness?

   How about in a box under the bed?

Mercy Kenyutelme

Lake Niedaklew, Delaware

Dear Mercy,

   I haven’t heard that many questions in a row since my mother found a hash pipe in my “If It Smells Good Eat It” panties when I came home for Thanksgiving vacation my freshman year at Skidmore.  (A word to young ladies headed for college this fall: you can’t just dump your dirty laundry in a bag and bring it home: sort, sort, sort!).

   Anyway: the problem here isn’t playful or vindictive critters.

   It’s simply an irresistible force of nature, and one with which you’re no doubt more than a little familiar.

   As it turns out, tulip bulbs are like penises in that they actually get erections, and when they do, well, think about hubby on the dock in his baggy Nike swim trunks when your neighbor’s college daughter with the pointy bazooms kayaks by in a string bikini sporting less surface area than a SpongeBob SquarePants band-aid circle. 

   Even with a mesh lining and a layer of machine-woven rayon blocking the path, hubby’s bulb will find it’s way to the top, just like your tulips, although, thankfully, manmade fabric isn’t as easily pierced as ground soil.

   And unlike hubby’s Johnson, your tulip bulbs won’t go back down on their own, so you do indeed need to gather them in and store them properly until fall planting season arrives.

   As for where to store them: cool and dry is good, but I’d be careful about under the bed, if that’s where you store your “when hubby’s away” toys, if only because curiosity might someday get the better of good judgment if you’re looking for a new vibration and your toy budget is temporarily depleted. 

   Those bulbs may look like Nature’s Ben-Wa Balls, shiny and clean once in-ground detritus has dried and fallen away, but unless you steam them first--which will render them useless for gardening--you’re just asking for a Monistat run to CVS if you decide to take them for a test drive.

   Better to store Tulips away from your two lips, in a dry basement or some similar place where you know they’ll go undisturbed, like the back of the drawer where hubby insists on keeping those cords with the 34” waist he plans to be able to wear again “once I drop those last 15 pounds.” 

   Sure he will: all he has to do is stop meeting the boys for a Friday weekender, give up ice cream, and join you on your power walks.

   Or give up breathing, whichever occurs first.

Dear Soila,

   I keep reading about “heirloom” flowers and vegetables. 

   I know that means they’ve been around for a while, but I’m not sure how long exactly.

   I also wonder whether “heirloom” really translates into “better” or whether it’s just another marketing gimmick to get you to pay more for essentially the same thing, like adding “hot wax” at a car wash.

Jeannie Ollogy

Antique Lake, Indiana

Dear Jeannie,

   In order for a plant to qualify as “heirloom” it has to come from a strain that’s at least as old as a Tom Brokaw one-liner, which means not less than 50 years.

   As to whether or not heirlooms are somehow better than more contemporary plants, it’s about as predictable as whether or not the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue will get a rise from a golden-aged bisexual Rockette.

   Certainly, if a plant has been around 50 years or more, that would suggest it’s hardy enough to have survived a variety of diseases that have come and gone over the years, much like Mr. Brokaw (and the Rockettes, for that matter).

   But there are many newer plant strains that have their own built-in resistance to bugs and blights, and in the case of vegetables, taking an educated guess about whether an heirloom or a newer entry has the most flavor is like trying to figure out which hunk at the gym is likely to be the tastiest delight: until you get a chance to throw on a little oil and toss it around, there’s really no way to know.

   BTW: I’ve noticed at my car wash that those well-muscled types in the tank tops, who do the final drying outside, spend more time wiping down your hood and tail if you opt for the hot wax, and if that little side show isn’t worth the extra $2.50, I don’t know what is.

This month’s “Growing A ‘Ganic Garden”

•The terrace gardens have cosmos, marigolds, impatiens, zinnias, and phlox.  The Baumgartens have 47 grandchildren swarming the lakefront like Romans pillaging Carthage in 146 B.C.

•You can still plant hot weather veggies, as most will have time to mature before first frost.  You can’t plant a sensible idea in a teenager’s head (their brains haven’t had time to mature), so keep Dr. Dre, Jr., from driving any boat with horsepower above 2.

•Start asparagus seeds in individual containers for ease in later transplanting.  Start planting fall vacation ideas in your husband’s head now or you’ll end up back in Florida at the same stinking golf resort with his beer buddies and their insufferably nouveau wives.

•Put garden clippings and non-oily, non-meat kitchen waste into the compost pile.  Putting them in the toilet tends to create clogs.

•Keep up with weeds, fertilizer, and deadheading. Make sure your deadbeat former husband is keeping up with alimony and child support or he’ll start betting on Canadian Football again (yes! they play it in summertime!) and you’ll never see a cent.

•Head for hardware stores now or order online whatever veggie seeds you’ll be starting in September.  Amazingly enough, they don’t arrive on their own by magic, so you actually have to purchase them. 

•Cut back your herbs. They'll just keep growing. Apply the same attention to late afternoon cocktails because they won’t do the growing, your waistline will.

•Garden pests are out in full force. Vigilance is your best friend, as you need to deal with problems at once, before they get out of hand.  This means turning your sister and her children away before they get out of the car when they show up unexpectedly on the weekend (meet her “We were in the neighborhood and the kids had their swim suits on” with “I’m in the neighborhood and I’ve told you to always call first.”).

Special message to “Trimming in My Teddy”: I’d worry less about what the neighbors think and focus more on not accidentally lopping off any of your own low hanging buds.  Get a pair of overalls and then if you still don’t want to bother with undies--so you can “feel at one with the breezes,” as seems to be your wont--at least you’ll have a layer of heavy denim to keep you from ending up at a rural emergency room (where you’re likely to become one with sutures applied by a first year surgical resident--not exactly a boob lift at the Mayo Clinic).


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