I thought after I sold my retail nursery I would slowly compost and fade away. My knowledge would fade. My expertise little-needed in a digital know-it-all world. Little did I know how much a horticulturalist is needed these days.

I was also worried that I had lost my sense of humor during the last few years with Trump, the insurrection and Covid. But then the GOP came roaring back to save me. In their stumbling hurry to overturn the election in Arizona, the GOP hired some hacks called “Cyber Ninjas.” They have dubious credentials and are led by a fringe conspiracy theorist—but who cares? It matters not that Arizona already had two audits and one hand count that verified Biden won a close election. Meanwhile, the Arizona secretary of state has called the current recount illegal, sloppy and haphazard. Republican state senator, Paul Boyer, who later regretted his support of the audit said, “It makes us look like idiots. Looking back, I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.”

Still, the so-called auditors were looking for a more devious plot—like bamboo fibers in the ballots. Because everyone knows that bamboo only grows in China. Right? If bamboo fibers could be found in the ballots, it would mean that somehow China printed the ballots. And if China printed the ballots, then maybe China influenced the voters of Arizona. How insidious! Somehow China found a way to overturn a federally certified election!

This is where I step into this horticultural quandary. I’ve been growing bamboo right here in Calaveras Country for decades. Yes, I admit it. Bamboo is also grown all over the country. I use bamboo stakes to train my trees. The stakes come from China—I know, at least I think I know, because there is Chinese writing on the cheap woven plastic wrapping that the bamboo ships in. The problem with blaming China for printing bamboo ballots is that there are 115 genera and 1,462 species of bamboo growing all around the world. Bamboo is native to China and all of East Asia. It is also native to India, the Himalayas, sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Australia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and even the Southeast United States.

Yes, most of the “red” states have native bamboo spreading among them like little communist infiltrators. In fact, the only areas that don’t have native bamboo are Antarctica, Europe and most of the “blue” states in America. What this all means regarding ballots; I don’t have a clue. But there you go.

Another elected GOP official in Arizona named Jim O’Conner is claiming, falsely, that the Covid vaccine not only causes death but turns those who receive the shot into “potted plants.”

Again, using my horticultural expertise, I know this is not true. If people could become “potted plants,” it would have been a lot easier to sell them fertilizer, fungicide and all the other things plants need. I could have sold them larger pots and extra potting soil. They’d have their choice of clay, ceramic, plastic, resin, concrete or fiberglass pots. Some might have preferred the half wine or whiskey barrels. And potted plants don’t argue with you or try to make a deal because you’re the owner.

O’Conner also stated, falsely, that “thousands have died” taking the vaccine. And the rest of us who survived this awful vaccine? There are “something like 40,000-plus recorded cases of people that are now potted plants,” O’Conner asserted. “They are human vegetables.” Nobody knows exactly where O’Conner obtained this information. He wouldn’t say but did reference a discredited Idaho-based physician who has made false Covid claims in the past. Perhaps he also got some of the information from Tucker Carlson, of Fox fame, who is spreading lies about Covid deaths from the vaccine.

As of today, more than 257 million Covid vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. Where are all the dead vaccinated people? Where are the vaccinated “human vegetables?” I am assuming these “potted plants” will now be classified as “vegan” since plants don’t eat meat—excluding pitcher plants, sundew, and Venus fly traps. In that case, maybe it’s true that Joe Biden wants to stop people from eating hamburgers by forcing them to be vegans. Oh wait, that is another GOP rumor that has been discredited. (Quick tip: water carnivorous plants with distilled water. They hate tap or bottled water.)

For my last bit of horticultural wisdom, I just wanted to say, without spreading rumors, that there are a lot of people who grow organic “vegetables” in this county—if you know what I mean. Maybe the rumor mongers and our organic growers could hook up. Someone is smoking some bad stuff. They need help.

Don Urbanus is a resident of Valley Springs.

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