Our garden soil is adequate. N P & K, the major soil minerals are present in adequate levels. No need to march to the hardware store and fuss over blood meal, bone meal, seaweed emulsion, fish emulsion, and synthetic, petroleum-laced fertilizers. Anything with a "zer" in it is suspect.

The forties and fifties advertising boom wreaked havoc on spelling. Ever since then we've been sliding down the dumbell: Frigidaire, Kidz Korner, Qwik, etc. The dubious return to low-fat earth of the nineties gave us zingers like: Lite n' Natural. I imagine the "zering" of verbs into nouns came from this recently founded tradition.

These Lite n' Natural fertilizers, I am as suspicious of them as I am of the synthetic stuff. They all smell Acrid n' Unusual to me.

Meanwhile, the trace minerals that assist plants in their daily lives, those that enable them to take up the major soil minerals - these could be "depleted". Not "adequate". I'm watching the plants for signs.


"Adequate, Bernadette," my grandfather replied. My mother looked at her father through narrowed eyes. He grinned faintly, thin lips under a thin mustache.

After every meal my mother cooked, my grandfather said this. It was a sweet game, and we all played along. I gasped and said, "Pop-pop!" My grandmother, never amused at this game, "Oh, Leonard! For Heaven's sake." My father and brother laughed.