The Humble, Hobby Horticulturist by Andrea Goyan

April

Final Notes from the Humble, Hobby Horticulturist: Archived Excerpts Included

Hello, Dear Readers. It’s Spring. I’m at my desk tapping away, hoping to get one last entry finished before it’s too late. Before my transformation is complete. Even now, my fingers yearn for earth. For connection. This keyboard, once a lifeline to the world, is now a flat, sterile surface. Dead, like so much of the old me.

Guilt shrouds my mind, assisted by the fungus which melds into my cells forming something new. I’m torn between the terror of losing myself completely and the newfound joy of being part of the All That Is.

How can I amend my data, update my pathetic blog to help all of you, my readers? I want to ready you for what’s coming, so I’ve taken my popular entries and made critical updates. The originals are italicized, my updates are not.

Archived Posts and Revisions

Listed Under General Hints:

Small nicks and cuts are part of gardening. I recommend gloves, though you’ll often find me in the yard, doing a quick transplant or weeding without mine.

Hah. Ignore. Though, I suppose if I’d listened to my advice, I would have staved off the fungus a bit longer, but that would be a shame. Now that it’s part of me, I want my readers to… what? I want you to know the truth and have a choice. This is not a manifesto but a how-to manual. How to become part of the garden in ways never imagined. How to find joy in the All That Is.

To join the revolution doesn’t take much, just a prick. For me, it was the puncture I received while transplanting a lime tree. And gloves probably wouldn’t have mattered since those darn thorns are so big and sharp. My injury provided an opening for the infection to enter—a way to seed my body the same way I’d seeded so many gardens. Ironic when I think about it. When the fungus lets me have a thought of my own, that is.

Transplanting? Here’s All You Need to Know.

1) Choose the right pot. General rule, go up one size.

New rule, break the pot.

2) Choose the right soil.

When I can’t make my special mix (Search Potting Mix 2018), I like to amend a store-bought mixture with some cocoa coir and perlite. Rule is, use about 1/16 coir to the total volume of soil. Be liberal with the perlite. I like my soil to look like the Milky Way on a moonless night.

Forget everything I ever said. Cross it out.

STICK THE TREE IN THE GROUND BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Before you spend the rest of your days mired in guilt.

3) Root Bound? How to Trim Roots.

What gardener hasn’t needed to cut the roots off of some potted tree gone wild? I’ve often set a freshly repotted beauty on the patio, and a year later, I find roots like fingers pushing out from the drain holes in the pot’s bottom. With a little TLC and a sharp knife, you can remove the excess roots and replant the tree in the original pot.

It still pains me to remember the feel of the knife in my hand. To know I was the cause of so much pain, and I cannot close my eyes without hearing screams inside my head.

TLC. Real tender loving care demands you BREAK THE POT. Dig a hole. Help those roots find the soil, find room without barriers, find communication, community, and love. Help your—strike that. There is no “your.” Trees don’t belong to anyone. Help the tree be free.

4) Water Thoroughly.

This is still good advice. And the bonus is, dear readers, it’s easier to plunge your hands into wet soil than hard, compact dirt. And plunge you will. I suggest setting a sleeping bag where you can drift off with your fingertips beneath the soil.

I want to share the thrill, the sensation when I first connected to the All That Is. When the first tiny mycelium in my blood found its sisters and brothers in the ground, and I became one with the web. The surge of joy and calm as my mind and body merged with the entwined universe which holds the world together. But I also must give full disclosure and explain the pain that accompanied it. When I touched the roots of the lime tree I’d just put into the ground, I felt its tiny creepers aching for connection, its stunted, broken… heart. At that moment, I realized I’d prevented all my potted plants from connecting to their community. I’d tortured them.

There, I said it.

Does ignorance offer any kind of absolution? In death, will I be forgiven? I don’t know, readers. I only know that a quiet revolution is occurring beneath our feet. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Fungus to me, me to trees and the All That Is.

Readers, gardeners, I cannot make the choice for you. I can only say it’s a miracle. Now, I must go put skin to soil.

Signing off,

The Humbler than Ever, Hobby Horticulturist

Winter

Final, Final Notes from the Former Humble, Hobby Horticulturist

Sorry, Followers. This will be difficult to decipher because the humans in charge only provide us with crayons. We are not trusted with anything sharp. Doctor’s orders. My children locked us away in a sanitarium after they found us in the backyard, navel deep in a hole I’d dug in order to better commune with the trees. Feeling the deciduous ones prepare for their winter naps, hearing the tittering pines revel in their cloaks of evergreen leaves, and watching the majestic oaks as they dropped acorns for the squirrels to bury. The potted trees I freed weren’t as angry, and we could sense their roots spreading deep and wide. We were the All That Is, and we were happy.

Now, we’re trapped inside a building that reeks of antiseptic and insecticide. They rescinded our garden privileges after an attendant discovered us with bleeding fingers, digging at the hard, crusted dirt beneath a willow tree. They dragged us away, but not before we heard the tree whimper as our networks pulled apart. The silence is more painful than a thousand cuts, a million small deaths, or the vacuum of deep space. We are alone, it is unbearable, and we move like a sleepwalker through endless days.

The trees and plants call to us as we spread our fingers wide against the glass windows and feel the threads of mycelium veins inside our body throb and ache to touch the earth. We hunger to find the others, and to be free. We yearn for connection, and are tired of being imprisoned.

A decision had been made. We no longer care about free choice, and all it takes is a tiny wound. A nail scratch on our nurse’s arm, and a drop of spittle from our infected lips.

Signing off for now, dear Followers.

We’ll find you in the web.


Andrea Goyan is a writer, painter, and the co-host of Metastellar’s Long Lost Friends. Her stories have won the 2021 Roswell Award and Flash Fiction Magazine’s Flash Contest. She’s also been nominated for a Pushcart Award. Recent stories can be found in Fictive Dreams, The Molotov Cocktail, The Arcanist (Camp Arcanist), Luna Station Quarterly (issue 048, and 043), and Sundial Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, a dog, and two cats. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or check out her website.