Totally off topic: gardening

Worm Poop for the Garden: A Story

aka Adventures of Gabkad:

You need to go to a bait shop in Scarborough (lovingly referred to here in Toronto as 'Scarberia') where you discover a partially open backdoor in a laneway and there's a sign on the wall 'beware of dog'. Where you look into said doorway to discover floor to ceiling bars and loud machinery. Then as you walk away, a big dog starts to bark. (Sort of like 'Keeping Up Appearances' except you are by then far enough away to not jump out of your skin.)

Said bait shop is in a grimy part of town and you wonder, should I even be walking around here? You tell yourself: You've driven all the way here, don't give up. Then you walk down the driveway towards the main road and see three styroboxes filled with worm castings and germinating plants. You think to yourself, aha, this looks promising. Then as you walk by the side window you see stacks of flat styro boxes... you conclude, there are the worms.

When you walk around to the front door (which looks like a 1970s cheap steakhouse restaurant door) you see through the right hand window dead legs laying on a table. You think to yourself, I hope that's an animal. Then you take a deep breath and open the door. When you take two steps in you find as you turn left to your right side there are 2 lambs on spits, 1 lamb skull in a bowl and indeterminate bits of innards in another bowl.

Looking ahead you see 4 men in a room. One is at the far end of the room (he's obviously the boss... grump is written all over his face) sitting behind a messy desk a very faded map of the world on the wall behind him and two opened bottles of Metaxa (Greek kickass brandy for those who don't know) in front of him. Three other men are in the room, the light penetrating through such filthy windows would seem as if you are in a smoke filled room except you are not. To your left now is a small table with the leftovers of a meal: tomato chunks, olives, and other vegetables. On a smaller desk are two opened bottles of Tsipouro (Greek Moonshine). One man is sitting behind this desk, another younger man is sitting between the two desks and a skinny old guy is standing in front of you.

Me: "Nice" nodding at the lambs.

Guy sitting between the desks: "That's my lamb." He smiles with pride.

First you breathe a sigh of relief that despite the initial impression of a very Sopranoesque scene, they are in fact Greeks.

You ask if they have worm castings available. The answer is yes. $4 per 50 pounds.

'Great.' I bend closer to the old guy because the boss nodded his head towards him. 'Could I have 100 pounds please?'

'Do you have bags?'

'No. Do I need bags?'

'No.' and he leaves the room.

Everyone is friendly. You are happy that today is raining and humid so it's a good hair day. You point to the Metaxa and say 'that stuff makes for really weird dreams'.... Grumpy guy chuckles.

One of the other guys takes out a clear plastic cup and pours a shot of Tsipouro and you know it's for you. You say somewhat apprehensively, 'hm I'm driving'. He says 'everyone drives' and hands over the cup. (I think this is the funniest thing I've heard in ages.) You taste it, pick up the bottle, start chatting with them about comparisons to the overproof Greek moonshine straight from the Peloponnese you tasted last summer and the conversation starts.

Then for the next 10 minutes you shoot the breeze and discover that if you hang with Greeks in this city, inevitably you all know lots of people in common.

At last the skinny guy comes back and says he's got the worm castings packed up.

You wish everyone a Happy Easter and follow the old guy back through the warehouse passing by gigantic bags of dog kibble. Out the side door and you open the car door so he can pile the bags into the car. Give him $8 because the boss said and it gives the old dude a bit of a 'tip'.

Then you drive away chuckling because in a couple of weeks you'll be back for more.... worm castings not moonshine.

This is the Toronto version of buying worm castings.

I do hope my brassicas appreciate this.

Happy Easter everybody!!! Enjoy life's eccentric moments because these are what we have.

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4 Replies

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  • Nah ! .... . you just have a gift ... with Words ... i enjoyed that wee story very much... when's that book coming out ?

    .... and i love Greeks ... lived in Athens for years ... they're the most hospitable folks ...

    and im gonna find out more about worm castings ... i'm intrigued .

    have a lovely Easter 🐣

    mx🌹

  • It's Greek Easter this weekend - so they were possibly celebrating ! Kalo Paska !

    Loved your story - thank you 😊

  • Great story, and it's added to my gardening knowledge. :-)

    Metaxa... Thirty years ago, I was living just off Green Lanes in north London, an area then largely populated by Greek and Turkish Cypriots, living cheek-by-jowl in relative harmony. I remember the 7* Metaxa I could buy there, and nowhere else...wonderful stuff! It was also difficult to escape the local baklava supply...that era of my life was the last in which I needed brand-new fillings.

  • Was reading fast and thinking that it seemed an unlikely bait shop to find in Scarborough. On a slower read I noted it was not the Yorkshire resort.

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