On this rainy, nearly spring day, I’ve been sitting at my computer and having a big think. Was it Winnie the Pooh who used to sit and have a think? I can’t remember. Anyway, these are some of my current garden thoughts and plans. They include some things I want to do more of, and some I’d rather stop.
Garden throughout the year. There was a time long ago when, in the fall, I would put the garden to bed and not think about it until February or March. Then, I would go out, make some rows and plant some seeds. Pretty simple, right? The last ten years the climate in Oklahoma changed everything. I could now garden most of the four seasons, because our winters, while fierce part of the time, are also mild for several months. I really need to change my mindset and garden all winter to be ready for spring. f I wait until February or March, I am so behind the eight ball.
Do you feel behind too? With speaking, writing and my book’s publication, there is even less time to go around. I’m not complaining, but my dilemma reminds me of the wise counsel in Lillian Cunningham’s piece in The Washington Post titled “Exhaustion is not a status symbol.” I think I’ll ponder that one some more.
I now wish I’d cut down my perennial grasses when temperatures were mild in December, but I did not. I also wish I’d pruned the roses in February, but February was our worst weather month. We had a lot of snow and cold. I can sometimes be a fair weather gardener. Like Goldilocks, I prefer things not too hot and not too cold. I should live in Hawaii.
Hire good help when you need it. My garden is really too large for one person even if she is a passionate crazed gardener. I laid out and planted much of the garden over twenty years ago, and time has marched on for both of us. Most of the beds and borders are permanent so I don’t think I’ll be turning any of them over into bermudagrass soon–God forbid–but I have hired help every two weeks for this spring and summer. It was hard to admit I need help, but I’m 52. I know! Where did the time go?
I work, and I still have one teenager at home who needs me now and again. I found a great garden helper in Kari Walls of Tender Hands Gardening. She is a hard worker who helps me weed, mulch, etc. We also chat as we work. Good help is hard to find, and I needed someone who also knew plants. If you as a gardener feel guilty about getting help when you need it, think about how sad you’ll be when the garden is overtaken by weeds midsummer. It will be more nightmare than dream.
Also, as my friend, Fairegarden suggested, I’m planting more shrubs and grasses to make my work easier each year. I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t plan to move anytime soon, so this is a good compromise. For more musings on compromises, see Nan Ondra’s latest post at Hayefield.
Opportunities? Not so much. In connection with the exhaustion article, I’m being choosy about any new projects I’ll take on. It will be rare that I promote anything on the blog. Occasionally, I get excited about books and tools, or maybe a new plant, but that’s it. Note the word “excited.” I get about twenty emails a day asking me to promote someone’s product, or to do a link or campaign. If an email has “opportunity” in the subject line, I am pretty sure that it isn’t one for me.
This blog makes no money. By the time I pay for hosting and do the writing, photography, etc., I am in the hole. Let me be clear. I never meant for it to make money. I just wanted somewhere to muse about gardening, and I wanted to help people garden in Oklahoma and the central South. With our extreme heat, bad soil, bugs and disease, it’s really hard to garden here. I want everyone to feel like RDR is a safe place to get information. I’ll tell you when things die. I show what the crazy prairie weather does to our plants and landscapes.
I won’t do click-through links for anything I wouldn’t grow or use. My time is worth more than someone’s marketing campaign. Yours is too.
Garden more, not less. Last summer I worked so hard that I lost sight of something. I love to garden, but it was all becoming just business, and I felt overworked and underpaid. I noticed I was getting my hands in the dirt less and less, and it made me sad.
Do you ever wait so long to garden that you’re almost afraid of what you’ll find? Only last week I felt this way. Everything looked brown and overgrown. The roses were sadly begging me to do something, anything, to save what’s left of them. The weeds were waving their ugly leaves and taunting me from every corner–even the paths. I don’t use Roundup. Burnout II, a natural weed killer, only works well when the weather is hot and sunny. I may try Avenger this year too. I also pull a lot of early spring weeds out of those paths. You can see why it’s overwhelming.
I actually told Bill I didn’t want to garden this year.
Luckily, we’ve been married 25 years. He just looked at me and said, “You’ll be fine once you get out there. You always are.” He was right. I was. I started in the front borders and worked on them first tidying up here and there. Then, I moved to the back garden on the north side where I have daffodils and hellebores planted, and I worked there. Then, I worked on two tiers of the border on the back of the house. I don’t get my garden help until the end of the March because she has other obligations. In the meantime, each day I make a little more progress, and I love gardening again.
The garden does still looks brown and forlorn though if you ask me. I know it will get better in a few weeks especially with the rain we’ve had.
Work on the house. Now, this may not seem garden related, but it is. We need to rebuild the deck on back of the house. I’m meeting with someone this week to see if he wants to take on this project. I also need to remodel a bathroom, and we’re going to put wood floors in the great room instead of carpet. Carpet makes no sense because of all the dirt we trek in and out of the house. Country homes have a lot of dirt and dust no matter how often you clean them. It’s far easier to work on wood floors with rugs than carpeting. I’ll leave the hallway and kids’ rooms carpeted because they don’t get as much traffic. The bathroom is in our former master bedroom, and it really needs help. So, things here are rather busy right now.
What does that have to do with gardening? Well, less time means I decided not to start eggplant, tomato and pepper seeds indoors this year. I know. It’s a sacrilege, but I just don’t have the time and energy to watch over babies right now. Instead, I’m going to buy veggie plants from our local nurseries and even the box stores. I’m also going to take half of my large vegetable garden and make it a cutting garden of zinnias, tithonia, gomphrena, celosia, cosmos, Nicotiana langsdorffii and anything else that tickles my fancy. When thinking of a new project, it’s smart to enlist the thinking of good friends. I asked mine what to do about so much space in the vegetable garden, and Cindy From My Corner of Katy suggested a cutting garden. Dahlias could go in there too. I would dig up the tubers in the fall. Mary Ann from Gardens of the Wild, Wild West loaned her Pinterest boards for inspiration. Aren’t friends grand?
See, that’s the thing about dreaming and gardening. As my friend Leslie from Growing a Garden in Davis says, it’s best to do what you like. These are the things I’m pondering this rainy, nearly spring day. What do you have on your mind in this growing season?