How candidates lose ground

Jerry Moore

WATERTOWN — Could my lifelong vegetable-poor diet be linked to my lack of interest in gardening?

It’s entirely possible because other folks have shown that the opposite is true. Individuals who have green thumbs usually love eating vegetables.

People plant their favorite items each season, care for them and pick them when they’re ready — they go straight from the garden to the kitchen. What could be more natural than that? Humans have been engaging in this practice for millennia.

But I’ve never developed good vegetable-eating habits. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, mind you, just not enough to prepare them along with the rest of my meals with any regularity.

It can’t be a coincidence that I’ve never honed my skills at tending to plants. I have a deep appreciation for all that Mother Nature produces. But it seems to be doing well without my meddling, so why should I risk the delicate balance of life for flora and fauna by interfering?

I violated this unwritten rule when I moved to Northern New York seven years ago — and I learned a valuable lesson. And that lesson was, “Don’t deviate from the routine.”

My new job here at the Watertown Daily Times came with my own office. And I concluded that my new office needed something big and green to spruce it up.

So I ventured out to Walmart on a Saturday and bought some kind of tree. My first mistake was not knowing anything about the tree or how to properly care for it. I figured all it needed was water, so I dumped water in it at least several days a week.

And from what I could tell, my tree appeared to be doing rather well. Although given that I possessed no experience in gardening, I wasn’t exactly an authority on this topic. All I could really do was to guess, and my guesswork wasn’t on the mark.

After a few weeks, I noticed a few unfamiliar insects flying around my office. It eventually dawned on me that my tree may be what was luring them.

I examined one of the insects and determined what it was through some online research. And sure enough, I discovered these pests are drawn to certain types of trees (such as mine) under certain conditions. Over-watering trees causes their roots to rot, and this is what draws the pests.

Several white eggs could be seen in the soil, so I knew this was the problem. I concluded the tree would need to, let’s say, be put up for “adoption.” As the new guy on the job, I really couldn’t afford to be responsible for an infestation inside the building!

I selected an appropriate “adoption agency,” and all I could do was hope that my tree would wind up in a good home. Now, it wouldn’t serve the interests of any of the parties involved to dwell any further on the details of this transaction. I choose to believe the tree continues to enjoy the love of dedicated and knowledgeable caregivers — such an image helps me sleep well at night.

This in part explains why I become a tad nervous when tasked with tending to plants. But I had to rise to the occasion recently, and it looks as though things turned out OK.

My dear friends Shirley and John McFadden periodically ask me to stay at their home in Adams and watch their dog, Traber (I’ve previously written about my time there). This obligation also includes watering the plants.

Sure, it’s hard to botch this up. Each outside plant gets watered every day (unless it rains), and each inside plants gets watered once a week. I’ve done this a few times before and somehow managed not to cause mass carnage.

But there’s a first time for everything, right? The nightmare I suffer every time I do this is that my friends will come home to a scene of yellow police tape all over the place and chalk outlines of their beloved plants drawn on the pavement.

And then there I’ll be at the house in handcuffs, looking away to avoid seeing the anguish on my friends’ faces. To add insult to injury, I’d likely need them to bail me out of jail after slaughtering their plants!

The good news is that the plants once again survived. I’m tempted to plant the notion that perhaps I actually have a green thumb, but harvesting such an idea may be premature.

Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to

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(1) comment


All things considered, maybe you should hone your skills at cooking... vegetables in particular.

The already-cut vegetables in our supermarkets is one of the most ingenious, modern inventions, eliminating a lot of the work and time once involved in cooking them.

Google "vegetable tempura recipes." Choose one, and use already-cut vegetables to make it.

I can see any number of vegetable tempuras being right up your alley!

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