What It Takes

What It Takes

East Russell Street Feed and Seed

By Callie Oettinger | Published: April 8, 2011

East Russell Street Feed and Seed sold everything from hanging plants and corn seed to dog pedicures and Easter chicks.

I was 16 when I worked there—my first non-babysitting-or-lawnmowing-and-comes-with-a-paycheck job.

A few things I learned:

Poodles who have pedicures more often than you do know when your heart’s not into the job. They can’t paint their own nails, but they will nip at you until you get the service right. Better to go in with a good attitude.

This week, Heather Plett shared a bit of Spring on Twitter, via the beautiful pic she gave me permission to post here. I'm using my caption instead of hers, though, calling it DO THE WORK (alt title: What I Learned at East Russell Street Feed and Seed).

Heather Plett shared a bit of Spring on Twitter, via this beautiful pic.

Tons of seeds look the same, but they don’t grow the same. If someone wants a Burpee Beefsteak tomato, better make sure you aren’t selling a Green Zebra. If your screw-up grows a money tree, all’s good, but if not, you’ve got some answering to do—so pay attention.

Things don’t grow the same from yard to yard, region to region. Heather Plett shared the photo in this post, of her rising Irises. My Irises are about a foot ahead of hers. And in my own yard, the hostas in the back have opened, while those in the shadier front are just peeking through. You have to account for the differences. What works in one spot isn’t going to work somewhere else. Accept what won’t work, alter as needed, and embrace the bits in common.

Ants in your house=not good. Ants on peonies=good. The ants help open up peonies, by crawling over the balls of petals, gradually loosening them into glory. Pests aren’t always pests. Same rule applies to worms. Worms are gross, but good for the garden. Deal with the grossness and move on. (Here’s an alternate view on peonies and ants. I’ll stick with what she calls a myth ’cause I like it better and that’s what I learned via East Russell. Either way, ants=good.)

Weeds are a reality. If you don’t maintain, they’ll take over.  You have to stay on top of them.

A greenhouse is a great way to get an advance start on the growing season. You can grow summer during the winter if you plan things out.

Learned tons of other things, but the biggie is: If you do the work, your garden will grow.

Posted in What It Takes

3 Responses to “East Russell Street Feed and Seed”

  1. April 8, 2011 at 8:43 am

    While I agree with your closing points of this post, I think the peonies and ants point resonated with me even more powerfully.

    I’m in marketing, and it seems like many people in my industry view things in a blanket sense; billboards are ineffective, Twitter doesn’t produce ROI, etc. (in this case always seeing ants as “pests”). However, to your point of the ants being useful to the peonies, something bad in one situation might not be bad under entirely different circumstances. Seeing things with a all-or-nothing viewpoint can be extremely limiting to our success, whether that’s in business, in life, or wherever it pops up.

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Callie. I’m not even a gardener, but the whole post managed to resonate with me anyway. Well done.

  2. April 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Not only do we learn here, how does your garden grow, Callie :-) but I have to say it makes me wish that issues of creativity and marketing had the assurance that your revelations about seeming pests here have.

    I’m with Mike, the peonies/ants thing is fascinating. And understood. Clearly the botanists got in there, monitored, tracked, documented, and determined the good job those ants are doing for the flowers. And I can recall my grandmother’s amazing African violet room, a converted verandah my grandfather made for her, with timed grow-lights and misters going on and off. As tricky as those plants can be, Lalla and Cammie had an astounding roomful, dependably beautiful.

    Guess we have to take the wormy things in other parts of our lives — especially creative effort — on faith. Hunches can’t be tested, gut feelings aren’t in the gardening books, and those special lamps make your skin look a great, healthy-pink color but can’t be counted on nourish your ideas like they do fuzzy green African violet leaves.

    Here’s hoping the pests — real or imagined — in our creative gardens turn out to be friendly beasts. :-)
    -p.

  3. April 13, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Great post Callie. It made me think of the similarities between spring blossoms and overnight success.

    The tulips here in Michigan are popping up, and every morning I’m amazed at the new growth. What seems like their overnight success is months of doing the work: grinding through the winter, gathering nutrients, being patient, going all-out when the time is right. Beautiful and inspiring.