Turned Earth: A Jack Broccoli Novel


I get asked now and again when my next book is coming out. I love writing and have multiple books planned; however, not all of them are non-fiction gardening books.

The project I’ve been completing this week is sort of a gardening book – though it’s not non-fiction.

I’ve created an entirely new genre – the gardening thriller!

Coming soon:

Turned Earth: A Jack Broccoli Novel

Yes, that’s real.

An artist friend of mine challenged me to write this book. He even came up with the title. The idea was so funny, I actually did it – and the book itself is hilarious.


“I’m just afraid of them catching on fire, Franklin! I don’t think you are seeing the risk here. Fur is highly flammable and there are literally dozens of places where electric current is buried in my walls!”

Jack tiptoed past, holding his breath. He was almost to the door when Angie held up a finger. He winced. I could ignore and run…

“Well I don’t care what the chances are, there is still a chance. You’re an electrician and you helped build the place. I want you to figure out a solution. Pay you? Ha! There is a house full of innocent creatures in danger and you talk about money? What is wrong with you? Hello? Hello?”

Angie slammed down the receiver.

“MEN!” she huffed, then looked at Jack with narrow eyes.

“Jack, someone called the office today asking about our soil testing methods. Hardin is out and Bill is on his cruise. That leaves you to explain what we do. Guy sounded important. I said we’d call him back.”

“Can’t Raman do it?” Jack asked.

“No. Raman says he’s too busy cataloging a big set of samples from some huge agribiz in Iowa. It’s you.”

Jack nodded, then started for the door. No mention of cats. This was better than expected.

He put his hand on the handle. Just as he did, Angie cleared her throat, obviously seeking his attention.

Jack turned slowly.

“Cats can get into outlets, you know. Some of them have prehensile tails. Mr. Wiggles does. He licks his tail to a slick, wet point. You can’t tell me that he isn’t at risk of a high voltage incident.”

“Well, it’s not that high of a voltage inside, really. Your standard outlet is just 110. And it’s AC.”

“I don’t care how many volts run through my AC, Jack. 110 volts is STILL 110 volts too many to run through one of my babies!”

“Well -”

“No well about it, Jack. You’re really going to stand here and stick up for the fiery execution of the sweetest, most harmless creatures on the planet? You would probably pull the switch, wouldn’t you, Jack? Pull the switch while Franklin poured in more juice at the box, Jack? You’re going to stand here – just stand here – and”

She had to stop talking about “standing here,” as Jack no longer was. He had slipped out.

“Men!” she hissed.

* * *

In the sample room, Jack decided he might as well call the guy who wanted info.

Then he realized Angie hadn’t given him the number.

Off the hook, he thought, then started grinding.

A moment later, though, the phone on the corner desk lit up. He flipped the grinder off with a sigh and picked it up.

“Jack, here’s the number.” It was Angie. He wrote down the digits, then hung up before she could bring up flaming cats again.

Jack picked up the phone again and dialed.

It rang three times, then he heard a faraway click and a “Hello, who is this?”

“It’s Jack. Jack Broccoli. From AgriTweak.”

“Ah yes,” the voice continued in a smooth, unidentifiable accent. “I wish to speak with you about your methods.”

“Ah, sure. We do a variety of soil tests. For example, Mehlich III. We also do ammonium acetate. And sometimes – ”

The voice cut him off. “Thank you, I appreciate hearing your sins first hand. I would say that you are scum, but that would be an insult to the incredible microbial community which makes up what humans call ‘scum.’”

“Excuse me?” Jack said, astonished.

“These tests you perform destroy life. Drying, grinding, heating – murder. Know this,” the voice continued, “the days of your domination will come to an end. Before proceeding further, we wished to know and record your lips condemning yourself, as it is only fair to let the accused present their case before execution.”

“Execution!” Jack exclaimed, “Wait, what – I thought you wanted a soil test!”

“The ultimate test is upon us. It is the test of our fitness as a species. And you have failed.”

The phone clicked.

Enjoy the weekend, folks. I’ll let you know when Jack Broccoli is published.

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