A neighbor stopped by the other day to take a garden tour. While we were walking through the trails she asked the secret to our gardening. I told her It’s easy to grow stuff, the challenge comes down to managing the dead stuff, not just weeds but the flowers and garden plants too.
One thing that people do wrong is a matter of scale. As we’ve gotten older, Snowball and I have been using more potted plants than plot gardens. Most people will plant maybe a half dozen pots and hang them out. Snowball plants about three dozen potted plants throughout the backyard. That way if she loses some its harder to tell. If a person only has six potted plants and one dies, someone will eventually notice and ask ‘what happened to that plant you had in the corner?’ If you’ve got two dozen or so and one dies you toss it in the compost and move the survivors around so your guests are always ignorantly surrounded by potted plants.
Weeds are the big problem and getting rid of them is the most time consuming part of gardening. Most potted plants must be hand weeded, after all resources have to managed. In garden plots you have a few more choices. Mulch is popular and its helps hold moisture. But I don’t care what you say it does not stop weed growth. It only delays them so the weeds can regroup and all attack at once – the ultimate ground troop attack. It then becomes necessary to counter attack with chemical warfare. But be careful the weed killer you use will not damage the plants you are trying to grow and always follow label directions. (Read the label? You gotta be kidding.)
Watering is essential and potted gardening makes it more so. With thirty or so pots standing around it takes some time to get to them all. For best results you want to create something similar to a South American rain forest. Snowball claims the daily chore only takes a half hour. Well I’ve yet to catch her start soon enough to get an accurate time. All I know it takes me significantly longer than 30 minutes. Add to that the time mowing and weeding to be discussed later and you may begin to understand my feelings toward gardening.
The Biggest Secret
I’ve left the most important part of gardening for last. The biggest secret of all – and don’t tell Snowball – the truth is I don’t really give a flying dingo’s kidney about gardening. The only thing I like to look for in a yard is a finely manicured lawn. To that end, whenever I mow the lawn, afterwards I use one of those weed killers that claims not to hurt the grass and it works pretty well. Now here’s the important part. I try to pay attention to how much time it takes to mow and weed the lawn. Add that to the time it takes to water. Then when I’m finished I make sure I take at least twice that amount of time with an adult beverage admiring my work. Gardening shouldn’t be a total waste, after all.