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Blog Cult of Personality

I just finished the first half of my winter meeting extension extravaganza. This year has been more notable than previous ones–this January is more notable! More notable for snow, subzero temps, unbelievable driving conditions, commutes that take 8 hrs instead of 4 (as if 4 isn’t bad enough), stomach flu, deadly flu, and grifters. On the positive side, I meet some great people, get Jeni’s ice cream and bahn mi. It almost balances out in a karmic sense.

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Not my actual banh mi. This one is a thing of beauty!

 

I am lucky. I have pretty good turnouts for my talks. Keep in mind that people are there for credit, but they have a choice of talks, and they chose me. (“They like me! They really like me!”). It’s good feeling, one I wish I remembered when stuck on the side of I-70 with a blown tire feeling sorry for myself. The grifter was later. 

 

I hope they are choosing to attend my talks because I provide good information, in a way that they can understand (at least, that is what a few people told me). And that I make it fun, or make fun of it…or at least funny. But my point, in these things, is to get you to like the information. Adopt the information. Love it like it was your own information–because it is. And then use it. Because it will help you. We ran all these experiments, with controls, so we know what works, and what doesn’t. That is how expertise is developed– not just by doing the same thing over and over and blogging about it, but having controls, and trying to make it better, quantifying it and then repeating it. 

 

There is a common theme that runs through so many gardening blogs, gardening magazines, blogs in general, and self-improvement books that is so much more a cult of personality rather than addressing whatever brought you to the book/blog/website to begin with. This worked for me, so it will work for you garbage. There are so many ‘experts’ with so little expertise. And they’ve taken to blogs, and twitter, and seek followers.  There was (at least) one entire talk at two conferences about getting more followers in social media. Why do you want followers? 

 

I want thinkers. I want kindred spirits. If I wanted followers, I think I would start a cult–not a blog. And certainly not a blog like this. That is seriously fucked up. 

 

I use this blog to write and think my way through problems…Sharing thoughts is so important…but gardening is fairly solitary. It is one of the things I like best about it. But, the arugala has not been forthcoming as to how protect the beets, or why the broccoli bolted. Again. I’ve tried multiple varieties with little success ( and yes, I need to start earlier, and get a later summer…). And really, who will I share my photos of braconid wasps with? 

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Braconid wasp parasitizing a hornworm.

 

So many who follows these blogs (best garden, best self), buys these books, subscribe to blogs/email lists, whatever, never studying them, let alone implementing whatever pain in the ass tactic will actually solve the problem. Others buy into the cult of personality, and dream of perfection without practice or purpose, and buy into the bullshit the garden guru shovels (‘all organic’, ‘no work’ ‘easy’) rather than planning, let alone implementing any of these things in their gardens or their lives. “I have the app”, “I have the book”, “I went to the seminar…” none of it means shit without putting in the effort and the practice, to develop some level of expertise. And in order to develop expertise, you have to fail. Sometimes badly.  Funny thing is, I notice the experts and gurus don’t fail. Which led me to the startling realization that…

 

…there is no guru. There are wonderful plants we want to grow, and gardeners with varying talent and luck.  Sometimes we succeed, and occasionally, we fail. Some of it has to do with the cards we were dealt, and the cards that we played. But we recognize that failure is the beginning, not the end, and an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. That there will be new hands, new cards, and new failures. And new plants. 

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Silver maple and failure…this one I predicted!

 

So, I’ve told you I don’t know everything. That I’m not an expert or a guru. Even though I have a Ph.D. in plant failure, aka plant pathology. And way more than 10,000 hours of experience (thank you Malcolm Gladwell).  And that many of the problems you have with your plants, I’ve experienced (or tried to experience–how is that for crazy?). I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never seen whatever problem plagues your plants. But I’m also not going to pretend that it’s the end of the world–because it’s not. Actually, I think it is pretty cool. 

 

 I hope you’ll find a kindred spirit who is just trying to get something to fruit or flower for a momentary lapse of pleasure. And hopefully, not only will you learn from my mistakes, but I’ll learn from yours. Because one thing that I do know is that I learn more from horrible warnings, rather than outstanding examples of perfection. And so, I’ll be here to provide a horrible warning, because being an outstanding example of anything, let alone perfection, sounds pretty horrible.                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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