For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you probably know Bill and I traveled to Yorkshire on a fabulous garden tour arranged during England’s National Garden Scheme. For those of you who don’t, posts about our trip are in the works. My mom is unwell, and I’ve been spending a lot of time with her, and I’m a bit behind. Bear with me, please.
After we flew home a week ago Sunday, I found my own garden a beautiful and unruly mess. It’s time for garden triage. How does one do garden triage?
First, assess what needs doing.
I live and garden on a pretty steep hill, and since Oklahoma got tons of rain while I was gone, my river rock paths are a washed out mess. I need to drag the gravel up and repair the paths where it washed out. Honestly, I’ve never seen it this bad before. We must have had some true gully washers. Sorry, I didn’t take a photo of the paths. However, check out this messy garden bed on the left below. On the right, was after I’d worked in it.
All of my gardens are full of weeds and weedy grass. Crabgrass is always looking for a foothold in any Oklahoma garden especially if you have nice, friable soil–something I’ve been working toward for thirty years. The weeds appreciate my efforts as you can see.
Tackle one area at a time.
When doing garden triage, tackle one area at a time.
My entire 1.5-acre garden is composed of rooms. I’m not sure this was intentional, but let’s just say it was and move on.
After assessing the damage, I started on the potager and long cutting/vegetable garden beds. I chose these first because vegetable gardens often won’t wait. If you don’t pick some vegetables–like green beans for example–plants quit producing, and the season for that vegetable is over.
In the past, I might have just let everything die and start over next year, but I no longer do that. Instead, I just take each garden room step-by-step and work only on it. I try not to look at the rest of the mess as I do it either. That way I don’t get depressed.
Use the right tools.
I used my favorite tools to dig out any grass or weeds and free my vegetable and herb plants from their grassy tombs.
What tools do I like this season? For weeding, I now love Burgon & Ball’s mighty pick because it has both a pointed end and a sharp side. I also really like Sneeboer’s five-tine hand garden rake for getting out pesky Bermuda grass. The hand rake was sent to me last Christmas by Garden Tool Company, but I think Sneeboer’s tools are some of the best in the business. In fact, I bought two of their transplanting trowels this spring. They are pricey but would make a great gift for the gardener in your life. That’s about all the tools I used in this episode of garden triage. Another thing I did was water the hard ground about two hours before I would work in a section. It made pulling weeds up from their roots much easier, and you must always try to get their roots.
I then picked all of the ripe fruit. I lost all of my summer squash plants to squash bugs while I was gone. It’s okay, I’ll just buy squash at the farmer’s market. I could replant, but I would need to be here full-time to keep squash bugs away. I’m speaking at GWA’s Annual Conference & Expo in Chicago in August, and I’m traveling to the 115th Harley Davidson Anniversary Celebration in Wisconsin in September so I need more forgiving vegetables than summer squash.
The tomatoes, especially ‘Red Racer,‘ a cocktail or salad-sized tomato and ‘Valentine,’ a grape tomato, are both off to a good start. Both of these tomatoes are All-America Selections, and AAS sent me seeds to trial. Both tomatoes taste very good in salads and for general snacking. You can leave both on the vine for a while too. Each has a tougher skin that seems very crack resistant. In other news, ‘Supersteak,’ an old-fashioned favorite, had three large fruit on the plant, but each had blossom end rot probably due to the rain.
See? Problems happen to us all. I just pitched the damaged fruit over the fence out of sight and began again. I also have peppers and more basil than I can ever consume, along with green beans and eggplant starting to do their thing.
As you can see from the above photos, there are some bright spots in spite of things getting out of hand.
If you need me, I’ll be outside in the garden working one bed at a time and drinking plenty of water in this heat. Here’s to all of us enjoying our gardens and getting them ready for fall for fall is one of the best seasons in an Oklahoma garden.