Consider this post, chock-full of eye candy, your garden temptation for the week.
You see, I really want you to grow something. I don’t care how you grow. You can grow on a patio, balcony or deck. Grow plants in raised beds as in my cutting garden or potager or in-ground, but if you have red clay, let’s talk. Raised beds may be your ticket to success and happiness.
I just want you to get your hands dirty, and I’m hoping a little garden temptation will help. Get some mud on your jeans, or in your hair, as you brush it away from your pretty face. It’ll do you and your body good.
You don’t need a lot of tools.
Start with a trowel, a decent one that isn’t too thick on the end. This stainless steel 14″ garden trowel. is pretty darned good because of its pointed end, and it’s cheap as trowels go. I also like this Edward Tools soil scoop–not technically a trowel–but the perfect size to dig holes for four-inch transplant pots.
Note: I don’t like aluminum trowels. They are too thick and dull. With my red dirt, I need a sharp trowel.
If you’re gardening in the ground or raised beds, you’ll also need a weeder of some sort. Everyone has their favorite but mine is the DeWit Right Hand Dutch Hand Hoe. It’s not cheap, but it will last a long, long time if you take care of it. A new-to-me tool is this five-tine Hand Rake by Sneeboer. Garden Tool Company sent it to me around Christmas time, and yesterday, I found it excellent for use in the loose soil of my cold frames. If you’re gardening solely in containers, you probably don’t need a weeder. The only other tool I use for the most part is my clippers. I love two different clippers: Corona FS 3204 ComfortGEL Snips and Felco F-6 Classic Pruner For Smaller Hands. Don’t confuse the Corona snips listed here for the micro-snips or the ones with the small closure on the bottom. They are not as strong as the ComfortGel Snips. Last year, I also tried out some other pruners like the Felcos, and while I liked them, I still reach for my Felcos more often.
Eventually, you’ll want more tools, but these are good in the beginning.
Set up your watering system before you plant.
To make your job easier, know how you’re going to water before the summer heat rolls in, and trust me, it will, especially in the southern part of the U.S.
I work in the mornings as early as possible, sometimes 7:30 a.m. in summer, and I have everything set up on drip irrigation, even the containers. You can buy kits like this Raindrip R560DP Automatic Container and Hanging Baskets Kit online or from your local box store or nursery. If you don’t feel comfortable setting it up, have someone help you.
Bill and I set up drip systems for my containers several years ago. Having drip irrigation means still paying attention to your water situation. You still need to check on your pots every day, but not be at their beck and call 24/7.
You can actually go on vacation!
As for beds, I use a Netafim drip system and soaker hoses on timers. For twenty-three years, it was all soaker hoses.
Grow what you like.
If you like vegetables, grow vegetables. If you like daylilies and clematis, grow them. A lot of people tell me they have trouble with clematis.
How to grow clematis.
Plant clematis in raised beds with excellent soil–lots of compost–and in the shade of a crapemyrtle or a rose or another vine. Clematis need shaded roots, but they want to climb up into the sun. If you use a crapemrytle as their support, put chicken wire around the base, and let them climb it. I learned this tip from my friend, Wanda Faller. Whenever I see a clematis, I think of her.
Grow native plants.
Also, grow native plants and simple flowers for the birds and the bees. How do birds figure in? They eat bugs, especially in the spring. Bugs eat our native plants but don’t tend to destroy them as easily as some of our favorite Asian cultivars. Birds need caterpillars and worms for their young. I grow newer cultivars and love them, but I’ve also made special provision for native plants in my garden to give all the creatures that visit and live here something to eat.
If you lost a rose or two, plant native shrubs in the spot where the rose once grew. You can always plant a rose nearby, but not in the same spot as before. Rose Rosette doesn’t remain in the soil except in rose roots that remain. Native shrubs and perennials evolved with our insects and birds, and they bloom at the right time for everyone.
But, just make sure you grow.
You might even get a little sweat on your brow, and it won’t hurt you a bit. You’ll be out in the sunshine, and when finished doing whatever garden work you have, whether it’s planting, sowing seeds, or harvesting, you’ll thank me.
Want to know why?
There’s a secret all gardeners know. Yes, it’s hard work sometimes, especially in summer. But, if you persevere, you’ll come back inside with a mind much clearer and full of joy. Maybe not while you’re still sweating, but grab a glass of iced tea and rest. Sit in a garden chair. Look over your handiwork. Just like our good Lord, you’ll deem it good.
Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.