Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Golden Girls" Gardening Assistance

In these tough economic times, everyone could use a little extra cash. I am managing all right, but with two daughters living across the country, it would be nice to have a little "play money" to be able to visit them more often.

I do substitute teach occasionally, but the pay is not that great. Besides, I can't substitute on Wednesdays because that is my Tai Chi day, and if it's sunny outside, of course I'd rather be in the garden. What I have been looking for instead is some kind of work that has more flexible hours and something totally different that wouldn't feel like work at all. Something related to gardening would be enjoyable, but I'm hardly qualified to be a landscape designer or a garden coach.

Then a few weeks ago, I had a brainstorm. I have been preparing a new flowerbed for next spring, and inspired by Tina's excellent post on "double digging," I decided to spade up a patch of lawn rather than using the tiller to break up the sod. This project may take me until spring to complete because I work only a short time each day that it isn't raining. Tina admitted that while she once was able to dig up a new flowerbed in a day, it now takes her a few days. I think we can all relate to this, but Tina has to be in much better shape than I am. After an hour of pushing the spade into the soil, lifting up a clump of turf, and throwing it over to the side, I need three hours of rest on the couch to recuperate. (Stock tip: the company making Ben Gay would be a good investment right now.) This doesn't even consider the strain on the knees later while spreading newspaper and additional soil or mulch over the freshly dug bed. (Note: add the makers of ibuprofen and acetaminophin to your stock portfolio.)

However, one day while waiting for Sophie to take care of her "business," I spaded a few more inches of the flowerbed-to-be and soon discovered I had an unknown source of gardening assistance. Finished with her necessary duties, Sophie ambled over and found my work intriguing. She quickly joined in and demonstrated an amazing ability to assist me, cutting my work time considerably. This inspired me to consider launching a new business helping others prepare new gardens. Considering the increasing number of baby boomers entering retirement and turning to gardening as a hobby, I think there is a real market for a new business of this type.

We're a long way from marketing our services just yet, but let me show you the potential here. Please be advised that these are very short amateur videos--I had to enlist the aid of my grandchildren to take them--but a more professional shooting would be used in future commercials or other advertising.

Notice how the gardening assistant carefully separates the turf from the soil, ensuring that the rich topsoil is not lost, but can be easily raked back into the garden area. After the initial spading by yours truly and the separation of sod and soil, the assistant continues with the next step.

This next step of "double digging," according to Master Gardener Tina, aerates the soil and produces a fluffy medium that provides an ideal growing environment for new plants. It also results in a raised bed for a more aesthetic appearance.

This new business is still in the drawing board stage, but I have finally come up with a name for our venture. After rejecting such names as "Doggie Digging" or "Sophie's Sodbusting," I have decided on "Golden Girls' Gardening Assistance." Just vague enough to pique curiosity, I hope. And just in case you are smirking, the name is an obvious reference to Sophie's pedigree and to the few strands in my hair that have retained their gold color, NOT to my age.

Of course, there are a few kinks still to be worked out. I spaded up a small area a month ago to plant the "Bloomerang Lilac" that had been languishing on my patio, and after digging up even more space, decided to finish this area off with a layer of newspapers and new garden soil so that I could also plant a lily and aster that had been purchased weeks ago. I returned home after some errands that afternoon to find pawprints all over the completed garden area and newspapers strewn all over the yard. Obviously, some employee training will need to be completed before we can open for business.

Since the formulation of the initial plan, I've also considered branching out into other areas. On Monday, we had a trial run of garden clean-up. I demonstrated to my assistant the ease of pulling out dead tomato plants and garden debris. Unfortunately, the grasshoppers jumping about all over the garden proved to be too much of a distraction. Again, additional employee seminars on productivity and learning to focus on the work at hand will be necessary before offering additional services.

I am not sure when I will be ready to open for business, but in this early stage I more than welcome any suggestions or constructive criticism you might offer me. And, if you are within easy driving distance, I might be able to arrange an experimental demonstration of our services. Since this would be strictly a trial run, the cost to you would be minimal--a few Snausages or a small cheeseburger should be sufficient.

Whenever we do launch our business, I do know that there will be this disclaimer on the contract:

"Not responsible for accidents if the gardening assistant is
allowed to enter a previously planted garden."


  1. Oh my Rose, what a great assistant --my question is does she know when to stop?? You may have extra 'help' when you are not around. Pretty dog!

  2. Tee Hee...funny!! Especially the bit about recovering from all that digging bending and streching by resting on the couch...
    ((I can relate!!))
    I'm in line for Sophie's service! Great post!! Put a smile on my face!
    love and light aNNa xo

  3. That's hilarious Rose! Sophie is quite an able assistant, and I think you're onto a great idea for earning extra cash.

  4. ROFL...I can't wait for the sequel to this story. When the Gardening Assistant destroys the newly planted garden. Oh girl, you will have your hands full next spring, if not sooner.

  5. P.R., Thanks for the stock tips, I'm on the phone with my broker now. And are you considering bringing on some "silent" partners? If you are, be sure and let me know, because I really dig this idea. In fact, I wouldn't paws a moment if you needed some backing. Dog gone it!

  6. You are so lucky to have such an enthusiastic garden assistant. lol ;) My little terrier Spaz loves to jump in the compost bin and turn the pile for me. Of course she is actually more interested in the family of mice who have a home there in the past. ;)

  7. So you are a double digging adherent? It is quite a raging debate throughout the garden blogosphere from time to time.

  8. She seemed to know exactly what she was doing. What a great assistant you have there Rose.

  9. This is a great idea. And Sophie certainly seems to have the raw talent-as you say a little training will be desired. You could make it a family affair with the grands helping out also. Loved the videos. Looks like everyone was enjoying the sun and mild temps. Too bad you won't have a chance for a while to do some more training. I think this rain is here to stay for a few days.

    BTW, I had intended to make a new bed this fall and I'd be willing to have the Golden Girls take a try at it. For a snasuage or 2 that is. :)

  10. What a willing assistant. Very useful little dog to have around.
    I have had great problems with Blogger today...... getting into your blog! Phew! I felt I was digging a hole!

    Nuts in May

  11. You just may have a winner there Rose! What an awesome assistant! I'm betting Sophie works for only hugs and pats on the head(or maybe a sausage or two from Beckie) too so no great overhead paying the help at all. She is so sweet. Your grandson looks like he is having fun too. Take them both and help others.

    P.S. I have many many ibuprofen to help me get thru the day but three hours on the couch sounds about right. Ben Gay sounds even better. Never thought of that one. Thanks so much for the links. I am truly honored.

    Your garden looks like it is coming along wonderfully. You can't beat digging in the dirt for canines or humans. Come spring you'll be all set. Now the fun part-what should you plant?

  12. Janet, The newspaper "accident" happened when my husband was "supervising":) Actually, Sophie seems to understand that you don't dig around something already planted.

    Anna, Glad I could put a smile on your face today! Sophie has a lot more energy than I do; it would be nice to be able to put it to good use:)

    Linda, Obviously, we have a few little problem areas to work on yet:)

    Lisa, Yes, I'm laughing now, but next spring maybe not. So far Sophie seems to understand she isn't to dig around plants.

    Carol, Hope this wasn't what is called an "insider tip":) I'll keep you in mind if I need some seed money:)

    Racquel, Sophie enjoys the compost pile, too, to see what "goodies" I have thrown in there. She often carries around melon rinds:)

    Elizabeth, I use whatever method I have time for:) I've found when I spade up the soil and remove all the green material, I have fewer problems with weeds later.

    Susie, This is one time I've encouraged Sophie to keep digging!

    Beckie, Can you tell Connor was enjoying this as much as Sophie? I'd have a real assistant if he could only lift the spade. Perhaps once I get my new bed completed, we'll do a trial run at your house--of course, that may be next June:)

    Maggie May, Glad you didn't give up! Sophie has given us so much enjoyment...and lots for me to clean up:)

    Tina, Grandson would love to help, too, but the spade was a bit too difficult for him. I could probably give him a smaller shovel, and I could just sit back and watch! This new bed is going to be primarily for all my daylilies which are not getting enough attention where they are. I'm sure it won't take long to fill it up!

  13. Rose, I loved this. It was so cute. She's a wonderful gardening assistant.~~Dee

  14. LOL. Maybe you can train your assistant to eat grasshoppers as a great organic solution/side benefit! I hear you about slowing down in the garden. Unfortunately, it's hard to find help who will do it as well as you can yourself.

  15. Dear Rose,
    You have a wonderul helper!
    Nice to have bigger beds to fill up next spring too!

  16. It's a perfect plan! Not only that but I would like to go into partnership with you. All the people that want their gardens dug this year will be complaining about rabbits and deer that eat their gardens next year. Aggie and Toby would be a perfect solution to those problems.

    We can market it as the 'green' complete garden solution. We sit on a lawn chair and supervise.

  17. How much fun to see cross-fertilization between favorite blogs! I love the dog-that-dig business idea. Ha!

  18. What a good girl Sophie is! What a shame you are so far away or George and I could come into partnership with you: we could take the world by storm!

  19. So funny Rose......I can't stop smiling....

    I think I will pass on Sophie's services though, gorgeous though she is......I think I will stick with Nella and her rabbit chasing...

    I have just enlarged most of my has been tiring but it is at last finished. I couldn't face doing it in the spring.......

    Have a lovely weekend and hugs for Sophie.....

  20. Dee, Sophie has actually helped me quite a bit!

    Jean, She does partially eat the grasshoppers:) I'd love to have someone else do all the digging for me, and then I'd gladly do the planting...or I'd like my youthful energy back:)

    Sherry, I'd love to have an even bigger garden, but I'm taking it one small step at a time.

    Marnie, Sounds like a plan! You've brought up some excellent marketing strategies--repelling deer and rabbits, and very eco-friendly. But my favorite part is sitting in the lawn chairs:)

    Sarah, You have a Golden, too, don't you? Or is she a Lab? Either way, you might want to start your own business:)

    Liz, Just think of all the work that Sophie and George together could accomplish! We'd be rich!!

    Cheryl, This is probably just as well. I'm afraid Sophie would find your garden too enticing and probably run through everything to hunt for wildlife other than rabbits. I don't appreciate the tired muscles at the end of the day, but seeing the finished garden is always so satisfying, I agree.

  21. Hi Rose, this is rich, just rich! I loved the part about you both being golden haired too. Blonde bombshells the both of you. Hope you have recovered from your spanish class. :-)

  22. LOL! You two make a great team! This reminds me of why I was always hesitant to start digging with the Borzoi around.

  23. Your business plan is excellent! Please let me know when you go public and I'm in! :)

  24. Such fun Rose! We have two new puppies in the extended family who are available to join the team immediately! Sadly my Louis has decided not to apply BUT!! would prefer to launch a takeover bid for your job of overseer in the lawn careful, he is very persistent when he wants something...your job is no longer safe!!

    Great pieces of video Rose, Sophie is a darling ;)

  25. Oh, I love this!! What a fun job. Maybe you could start a business - why not? It could be gardening with entertainment as an added bonus!

    Nice to be doing tai chi on a regular basis. I love it, but have stopped going to classes. I do it sporadically in my living room (now that the weather is too cold for on the deck).

    Golden Girls - cute! Reminds me of that T.V. show (yes, I know Sophia was the grandma). LOL!

  26. Good stuff, Rose ... love it and good luck!

  27. Ha ha ha, very droll! Fiona wants to add that while she accedes that dogs are good diggers, she finds them unreliable and easily distractible in all other matters. She thinks cats are far superior--so far in fact that they will not condescend to be human helpers at all. Personally, I like the lazier approach of lasagna layering for creating garden beds out of trash, though double digging *looks* fun! :)

  28. "trash"? That should have been "grass" (I just took my stuff to the curb for trash day!) (Either that or it's a Freudian slip about my true feelings for lawn, LOL!)

  29. Frances, Survived Spanish, but today and tomorrow I'm in chemistry, which might as well be a foreign language:)

    MMD, Amazingly, Sophie has not disturbed the few plants already in this area, but we definitely need some fine tuning of her skills.

    Rose, Our start-up date has been indefinitely postponed until this rain stops!

    ShySongbird, Can you tell Sophie has won my heart?:) I know she would enjoy meeting your extended family.

    Wendy, I have Tai Chi one day a week, but I'm not very good about practicing it other days. Good for you to keep it up on your own! I love it.

    Joey, Thanks; further work has been delayed by rain, unfortunately.

    Monica, If the weather doesn't improve, I may have to finish the rest by the lasagna method. Toby agrees with Fiona--he prefers to watch Sophie's antics. In fact, he's been known to knock over a few things in the house just to get her in trouble:)

  30. Could you and Sophie be here next week...I can surely use some Golden Girl assistance! Any chance she would take on a few chipmunks that are making real pests of themselves!

    Rose, this is a wonderful are very clever and obviously an entrepreneur to boot!


  31. Gail, thanks, and I do remember those cute chipmunks. Sophie would have no trouble eliminating them, though after she ran through your garden chasing after them, you might decide the chipmunks aren't such pests after all:)

  32. Ha! Ha! This is a very cute post! Nice to have a utility worker in your employment!

  33. Oh, my goodness! I think just like some of us are glad other people in our families don't have the passion we do for our gardens, I'm wondering if you will come to a similar conclusion with Sophie's interest in it. As far as working together in someone else's yard, that's something different. LOL

    Fun photos and videos!

  34. Rose, life has kept me otherwise occupied for weeks, it seems, and I'm way behind on what's going on in my blogging friends' lives. I've finally got some time to catch up and have read all of yours that I missed. I'm only leaving one comment, tho, and I chose to do it on this one cuz it's definitely my fave! Sophie is a natural ... I'd happily give her snausages or any other treats in exchange for her assistance! For you, a glass of wine or a cup of hot tea! I hope you're over the ill effects of the flu and that you'll have some time in the garden before winter descends!


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