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Prest-o Change-o! Written by Quyen Tran

I’ve never believed in magic.  David Blaine?  Penn & Teller?  They do stunts, illusions.  But genuine magic?  Making things appear - poof! - out of thin air?  Doubtful. 

It turns out, though, I’ve been thinking about magic all wrong.

When my husband and I moved into our new Silver Lake home three months ago, the backyard was a monstrosity.  I hesitate to call it a “yard” at all; it was more like a museum of weeds.  Every sort of aggressive, tangly creeper imaginable was on display to the public.  The three foot-tall knotted thicket gave shelter to a horde of black widow spiders, and made the idea of my dream vegetable garden seem impossible.

However, I had something that no weed can withstand—determination.  An army of my closest pals descended on the mess, cutting down the vines and clearing space for the garden of my dreams.  Their reward?  Fresh lemonade…AND, of course, the promise that I would one day feed them with the veggies of their labor (in about 50-60 days from sowing).

As a first time gardener, I had much to learn.  When to plant, what to plant, how to plant—it took dozens of hours of research (thank you, internet) before I felt confident enough to actually break ground.
Fortunately, I made a very good decision early on.  A friend recommended I check out something called Bu’s Blend compost.  I researched it and figured that anything with the word biodynamic would have to be awesome, so I emailed the company.  Within seconds I received a message back, telling me how to layer in Bu’s with the native soil, and how I should let it sit for a while before sowing a single seed.  I was chomping at the bit, but patience won out.

Time passed.  More lessons were learned.  Composting workshops were attended.  Researching…about sunlight, worm juice, battling aphids and cutworms, making my own fish emulsion (wow is that a smelly endeavor!), and the list goes on and on. 

But after a whole MONTH of intense preparation—from weed whacking, to building planters, to layering soil with Bu’s—something truly magical happened.  Where a mound of invasive underbrush once lived now stood an organic vegetable garden.  Bu’s Blend worked. And I mean really worked!  The corn is 9 feet high.  Tomatoes tower over their cages.  Cucumbers spill out of the planter. Not only was I able to keep my promise and feed my friends, I’ll have plenty left over for neighbors, family and guests.  All from someone who has never had a garden before!

Like I said, I’ve never believed in that flashy, saw-a-woman-in-half kind of magic.  But that’s not what gardening is about.  The most important lesson I’ve learned is patience.  With patience, a few hard-working friends, and a little help from Bu’s Blend, the impossible becomes possible.  Weeding… becomes seeding… becomes feeding.

If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

Quyen Tran
Cinematographer and Magician


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