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Saturday, May 25, 2002
Petunia diet: key to a long, slender body
By AMY CHAVEZ
Are you a city dweller living in a high-rise apartment block? Do you miss having trees as neighbors? Have the few plants you tried to grow on the veranda died of asthma? I offer all you smog dwellers my garden: a virtual garden where you too can grow tomatoes and even pick off the worms. Or just be glad you only have to read about it.
This year, the gardening hazard is worms; they are everywhere, eating the leaves and blossoms of flowers, boring into infant tomatoes. Every day I put on my gardening gloves, which I received as a thank you gift for attending my neighbor's funeral, and pick off worms. With these funeral gloves, the worms will meet their death.
There is no fussing about capital punishment in my garden, and the worms meet their end with the assistance of special worm-squashing shoes. What makes them special is they have no treads to offer crevices for escape. Pick and squash, pick and squash. Buddhists believe in reincarnation and that you may come back to this world as a tree, animal or even a worm. I hope I'm not killing off entire clans of ancestors.
The worms seem to be getting the hint, however, because the other evening when I went for the second round of worm patrol, I saw a pair of worms bookin' it out of the planter. Or it could have been merely a response to the 5 o'clock chime and they were heading home after a long day at the plant. Short of installing security cameras around my garden, there is nothing else to do except continue the worm patrol. I'm thinking of starting a third shift with a flashlight.
You can always tell where they are -- just turn over a half-gobbled petal or a leaf with a gaping hole in it. They even bore into infant tomatoes. I grow tomatoes for me, not for the worms. Can I deduct this as "charitable giving" on my taxes?
Worms eat fast too -- they can devour a leaf in a few hours. They're definitely not chewing their food 13 times. And god, I bet those worms can belch!
It's a good thing worms don't carry their food back to the nest like ants do or I'd be able to watch the flowers exit my garden. The lilies would be trucking past the window, with the orchids close behind. It would be like going to the flower races: "The herbs are in the lead now with the petunias gaining . . . pansies on the outside, geraniums a petal behind."
Or maybe I'm failing to recognize an important worm holiday, a sort of thanksgiving. No, that is already celebrated in the compost. Maybe they just need directions?
Maybe the worms have a point -- flowers should be eaten. I wonder what a diet of flower petals can do for a body anyway. There must be some advantage to eating a giant petunia 10 times your size.
And why are the purple petunias the most popular? Maybe some combination of psychedelic photosynthesis and solar basting gives them those desirable purple tans. Or perhaps the purple petunias are popular because they are the most fragrant. Maybe if you ingest petunias, you sweat the fragrance of petunias. After all, I've never met a worm with body odor. Not until I squashed him, that is. Maybe you can pass lavender and belch hibiscus -- a new kind of digestive aromatherapy.
I decided to give petunias a try. The result? Petunias are delicious! I couldn't stop eating them. I've finished off a full planter and my tongue is purple. Only time will tell, however, about the digestive results.
Aren't you glad you only have to read about this?