Having carefully studied the ph levels of the dirt, I dug a garden plot in the yard with full sun and proper drainage. Having prepared the soil with the appropriate levels of fertilizer, I planted seeds according to the almanac, waiting for the most propitious day. The seed package said that the seeds would germinate in eight days. You can understand, therefore, how frustrated I was when it turned out that my seedlings didn't start to show up until ten or eleven days after I had planted them. I want to give my plants every advantage so I added more fertilizer even though the "experts" said to wait, that too much fertilizer could be harmful. "Experts!" Hah! If some fertilizer is good then more fertilizer must be better. It stands to reason. But my plants still weren't doing well--obviously there was something wrong with the soil--so I took the next logical step: I dug them up and carefully transplanted them to a sunnier spot with even better drainage. Of course I was meticulous in ensuring that the fragile root structures weren't damaged. I'm not an idiot; I know how tender seedlings are at this age. But for reasons that no one could possibly begin to explain--and believe me, I asked everyone who would listen--the plants did even worse in their new location. Clearly, they weren't getting enough sun. There is no other possible explanation that fits all the facts. My neighbors plants were now doing significantly better than mine. He hasn't done anything to help his plants grow. He just waters a few times a week and does some occasional weeding. That bastard! He must be singing to his plants or having his plants listen to "Seedling Einstein." (Of course it's too late now for me, but I'm pretty certain I should have had my seeds listen to Mozart before they sprouted.) And I'm sure that "Seedling Einstein" is helpful. It costs so much; it must be worthwhile. Although it's too late now. My plants are way behind. They're wilted and weak. Their stems aren't strong and their leaves are droopy. Maybe I was wrong to transplant them when they were so little but I take comfort in the fact that I made the best decisions I could with the information that I had and with love in my heart. All I want is for my plants to be bigger and healthier than those of my neighbor. Is that too much to ask? I just want my tomatoes to be bigger, healthier, and tastier than his. Fortunately, I have an idea. This one I know will work. Sunshine is good for plants. If a little sunshine is good then a lot of sunshine must be better. It must be. Therefore, I've taken my remaining funds and have purchased several dozen little magnifying glasses. I'm gong to set up each magnifying glass to focus the light of the sun on each of my surviving seedlings. (Yes, many of my plants have died. But that was their fault. They didn't try hard enough; they didn't care as much as they needed to; they CHOSE not to grow and learn in spite of all I did for them, after all the sacrifices I made.) Don't tell me that there's nothing more I can do. Don't tell me that I can't have a bigger, better, tastier tomato than my neighbor. And for God's sake don't tell me that I can't make the situation better, only worse. Don't tell me that I should get a life. All I've ever wanted is a better tomato than that of my neighbor. Is that so wrong? *** At the risk of "explaining the joke" here is why the speaker above should not be issued a fishing license let alone be allowed anywhere near a developing child. Er, ahem. Of course, I meant a growing "plant." Here are the analogous bad ideas: 1) Planning a pregnancy based on when the child will start school so that the child will be the biggest or the smartest. A better plan is to help the child fit in where she is. If she's the smartest or the dumbest or the tallest or the shortest or the most social or the least social, she needs to be comfortable in her own skin. She needs to be loved and valued for who she is, not for what she does. (And don't even get me started on mothers who "red shirt" their kindergarten sons so that the boys can be a year older and a year bigger when they play football as high school seniors.) 2) Too much fertilizer IS a bad idea. So is too much sunlight. Reading _Fox in Socks_ to a six year-old at bed time is loving. Reading _War and Peace_ to a six year-old at bedtime is abusive. 3) Obsessing on how the child is doing every minute says more about the anxiety of the parent than about the health of the child. Kids makes mistakes; that's how they learn. Uprooting them, making snap changes, becoming hysterical are all iatrogenic. (Causing harm by trying to help.) Most importantly: In raising healthy kids, the only way to "win" is not to compete. Every child is a gift. Not just the one who is graduated first in her class. Every healthy tomato is wonderful.