#$&@! My Shed Says


I’m a fraud.  A fake.  A pretender.  And the proof is in the potting shed.

Yes, this is my jewel of a potting shed – the one that takes center stage in many of my photos, the place where I find peace in the middle of winter as I start my seeds, the backyard structure that allows me to believe that I have a Martha (no need for last names here) existence.

Clearly, though, nothing could be further from the truth.

I came to the realization long ago that I am not, no matter how hard I try, Martha-esque.  I get dirty when I garden.  I have a tendency to use every pot in the kitchen when I cook (although I now know to clean as I go).  And I have been known to step on the prongs of a rake, sending the handle swinging up into the side of my head — on more than one occasion.  But it’s the condition of this shed that really says, “You, sir, are no Martha.”

I’m not even sure how I let the shed get away from me.  Laziness?  Maybe.  Distractions?  Probably.  Summer heat raising the inside temperature one degree shy of hell?  Most definitely.

In any event, over the course of the summer, the shed has become a catchall of lawn tools, pool paraphernalia, and bathing suits.  (Quite honestly, the build-up of heat in the shed is perfect for quickly drying wet suits and towels.  I’m just saying.)

The start of autumn, with its cooler weather, is a perfect time to straighten up said shed.  At last, I can finally enter the oven.  I wonder what I’ll find inside.

Here we have the princess of the shed, a shovel that has never touched dirt.  Joe gave it to me as a Christmas gift years ago and, well, it looks too pretty to use.  I like the shovel’s overall shape and the shiny spade and the smooth lines of the handle.  So, it hangs on a hook near the door so I can gaze at it – and walk by it as I select one of its grittier workhorse neighbors hanging a few pegs away.

I may be the one person in the entire country who purchased a pair of these spiked shoes.  I thought the concept made perfect sense.  Just slip these over my sneakers and I can mow and aerate the lawn at the same time.  Multitasking in the garden.  Certainly, Martha would approve.

At least that’s the theory.  In reality, the shoes either fall off or the spikes get stuck in the ground so walking becomes wobbly and baby giraffe-like.   And gingerly stepping across the driveway while pushing the lawn mower to the other side of the yard while balancing on a bed of nails – try that multitasking, Martha!

The spiked shoes have remained in the shed ever since, a reminder of a poor purchasing decision – although one made with the best of intentions.

On the other hand, this grate is the greatest 25 cents I’ve ever spent in my life.   Originally used as the top of a small pet’s cage, I found it in a thrift store  and immediately turned it into a sifter – the tool of my dreams.

Many, many years ago, when Joe’s parents owned our house, they decided to replace large swaths of lawn with rocks.  As Joe and I decided to make the yard more green and less quarry, we would either pick rocks by hand or grab a shovel – not the pretty one – and try to dig, each time literally hitting a wall.  Enter the sifter.

This sifter and I have moved mountains of rocks over the years.  In fact, Joe and I still joke that it wouldn’t be a summer without stones.  This sifter is more than a good thing; it’s a beautiful thing.

At the end of the day – and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich later – the shed has been returned to its Martha state of mind.  All that has to be added now are the terracotta pots and other assorted yard stuff in need of winter protection.

As for me, true to my so-not-Martha self, I look exactly as the shed did earlier in the day.  Filthy.  Spider webs stuck to my clothes.  Smudges of grime across my face.  Pieces of – what is that, anyway – in my hair.  Although I am in desperate need of a deep cleaning, it was a well-spent day – and that, most certainly, is a good thing.  Martha would be proud.

And so too is the shed.

52 thoughts on “#$&@! My Shed Says

    • You have no idea — and now that the school year is back, time is even more limited. But everyday, I think of you at the garden center and I say to myself, “Forget Martha. I want to be Mario.” 🙂

  1. I love this post! I don’t have a shed, just a couple of slightly leaning, junky shelves in my garage. They contain a pair of the same spiked shoes you bought. They made sense to me, too. I wore them a few times and then rented an aerator. I would LOVE to have a shed but don’t have any space to put it in.

  2. You have no idea how I laughed while reading this post.:-)

    I was relating to every line. You have a shed, and well kept :-), I have a cupboard and a big terrace balcony to strew things about!

    Thanks a lot for making me feel good.

  3. Brilliant Kevin, just bloody brilliant ! From the spade that isn’t used to the aerator shoes, the dirty gardening and un-marthaesque whole. Totally associate myself here!
    the shed on my plot is a nightmare – after my tools were stolen I decided to just throw everything in, hide the good stuff, with bits of this and that, which makes using it a total pain, the upside is I haven’t had anything more stolen. I feel I’m in good company here, well that is until you tidied up 🙂

    • Hi Claire. I think it’s terrible that someone would rob you of your tools — and that you have to go to great lengths to protect the goods. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with an organized mess. Although my shed was a shambles, I knew where everything was. You just had to dig — a little. 🙂

  4. Kevin, your confession resonates with many a gardener, including this one. Sometimes my potting shed, aka, garage, is so disordered I have to do my potting outside on the ground. Gardening is a contact sport: hard, grimy – and satisfying. Cheers on you.

  5. Oh, I absolutely loved the post Kevin! Your potting shed looks great, and I’m sure Martha would be proud! I am no Martha either even though I tried for years. I finally accepted that I have a full time job, and I couldn’t do that and be Martha … sigh. My potting shed is still under a fabulous old cedar tree. The tree is my potting shed! LOL

  6. I don’t think I’d be a very popular blogger if I too frequently pulled out “one upsmaniship” in relating personal experiences, but do you share your potting studio/garden shed with a tortoise? A big one who makes a lot of mess? I didn’t think so. Hahaha! But I wasn’t a good Martha before Darwin took residence, so perhaps my excuses run a little thin. I don’t know if this could be part of your habit, but I know that when I’m in a project I put my whole self into it and I don’t even see the mess until it’s a completed job. If I clean along the way I lose focus! Your final project looks very good to me, Kevin, and maybe, just maybe it will inspire me to get out there and clean up my own space! 🙂 Debra

    • Hi Debra. No, there’s no tortoise here (other than me). By the way, Darwin is a great name for your potting companion. I like to think of the mess as more of a brilliant organization plan. I know where everything is. 🙂

  7. Hi I am new here, have not been visiting Blotanical for a few months, but when i peeped in again found you to be the busiest in 24 hrs, so i got it. And i love what you posted.I can’t help compare myself with you though. I have a horticulture degree, masters and doctorate included but I dont have a decent garden because i am living at the 5th floor to work. My garden is in the province which i see only once-in-a while. And i dont have that much of equipment and gadgets to use in gardening, hahaha! Now i am ending up introducing myself to you. And i hope you don’t mind. Even at the 5th floor i use the aircon ledge for some pots, and i thoroughly enjoy it. Happy weekend.

    • Hi Andrea — I’m glad you stopped by. If you’re familiar with Blotanical, you’ll discover other gardeners who do the most incredible growing in pots, on terraces, and even on desks. As long as you have the urge, I guess that makes you a gardener. I’ll pop on over to your site. Thanks for commenting.

  8. THANK GOODNESS I am not the only one whose shed (in our case, it’s the garage) could use a really good clean up! In fact, when I did a small clean-up a few weeks ago, I actually found my new Lee Valley super-shiny spade! Knew I had bought it but couldn’t find it all summer. And also happy to hear that we both cook using all pots in the kitchen. That’s why I love that rule: one cooks, the other cleans up 🙂 Great post.

  9. I’m still a bit new but really enjoy your posts. This one was exceptional! You have a way of expressing yourself in a way that everybody can identify. I look forward to more posts like this one. And by the way, I got a dishwasher when I moved to my new house or my sink would be overloaded with every pot and pan in sight. Even if I don’t wash them right away it’s out of sight out of mind!

    • Hi Diane. I’m thrilled that you enjoy the posts. I know what you mean about the dishwasher — I just get jammed up when the dishes in the dishwasher are clean, and haven’t been put away, and the sink is full of dirty dishes. Ugh! 🙂

  10. This is a truly funny post – thank you for making me laugh. I cannot believe you spent a valuable gardening day tidying your shed!!! Fancy doing that and making humble messy beings like me who have no pegs and can’t find anything feel inadequate. Mess it up at once! If you don’t, you may be tempted to spend even more time in it enjoying all that tidiness.

    Hilarious spiky shoes by the way! Are they any good for raking gravel?

    • Just give me some time. That clean shed won’t be clean for too much longer. Within a few weeks, I’ll be curing elephant ears and canna for winter storage. And then the terracotta pots have to be stored away. As for the those spiky shoes, they’re really not good for anything — other than reminding me what not to buy. 🙂

  11. Ahh, the dreaded shed clean up. But only after the dreaded bedroom closet clean up, the dreaded pantry clean up, and the ever dreaded basement clean up. It is far too nice a day though, so I think I will strap on my aerating shoes ( yes, I too have a perfectly useless pair) and go wander the property. Martha would NOT be proud of the situation here!

    • Hey Michele. You have spiky shoes, too? I am certainly in good company. I’m starting to tackle those other dreaded cleaning projects — but I keep waiting for a rainy day. None yet. Happy cleaning!

  12. Years ago, when I bought my first home, there was a distinguished gentleman of a certain age who tended a lovely front garden nearby. He always wore jodhpurs and a tweed jacket with elbow patches, a driving cap, and puffed on a Meerschaum pipe as he worked. Not yet a gardener myself, I thought, ‘I want to be that guy.’ With 25+ years of gardening now under the military utility belt that carries my Hori Hori, my Felcos, and my bear mace, I look down at my 12 months-a-year camouflage shorts and the extreme hikers I wear for gardening shoes, and I feel pretty happy I am not the distinguished jodhpur man. Don’t be Martha. Be you. But I do think you need to mount your shovel on a pretty piece of wood like a fish.

    • LOL. I can never be a Martha or a P. Allen Smith. I don’t have the outfits for it. Truth be told — I love looking like a slob when I garden. I’m comfortable. I don’t have to worry about ruining something. It makes the clean-up even sweeter. Be well.

  13. I’m sure you won’t approve this comment but I am quite certain Fat Ass Martha doesn’t do half the shit she would like us, the gullible public to believe. She’s probably has a sundry of servants, I mean, help.

    Personally, I am a huge fan of You Grow Girl. http://www.yougrowgirl.com/
    Now SHE is the kind of gardener I aspire to be. Tattoos and all. 🙂

    N.B.
    I love your blog.

    • Hi NB. I first thought of editing your comment, but thought otherwise — because that would disguise your opinion and your personality. So, it’s here in all of its colorful glory. By the way, many years ago I tracked down Martha’s house on the East End of Long Island — and yes, there was a small army of gardeners cleaning up the yard. Although I was slightly turned off, I must admit — I do have a soft spot for Martha. Glad you stopped by!

      • Thank you for not editing my comment. I don’t normally post comments like that but I couldn’t help myself.

        I admire Martha as a business woman. She’s brilliant. To achieve that level of success is amazing. But as a human being, I have my doubts as to how nice she really is to people. Just my observation, doesn’t make it fact.

        Again, love your blog and the title! I am in awe of your awesomeness.

        Best,
        Susan

  14. This is the perfect time of year to clean the shed, reminds me I need to get to mine as it’s in a similar disarray. It’s funny, I’ve looked at those pronged shoes before and wondered how they would work – now I know. Thanks for the warning 🙂

  15. This post made me laugh out loud! Sheds (and garages, I would argue) are allowed to be in some state of disorganization, in my opinion. If a shed was perfectly clean all of the time, then I would assume it’s never used!

    Besides, Martha has a whole team of stagers following her around. She cheats too!

    • Julie!! Excellent point — and as far Martha — I may enjoy her shows, but I would never want to be her. I like doing things on my own way too much. I think you do, too! 🙂

  16. Pingback: When In Rome, Clip As The Romans Do | Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

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