Shooting Myself in the Foot
eglect and procrastination have taught me more in my gardening endeavors than I care to admit and a close second in the confession department is my falling for well-intentioned gardening advice that is the fodder for so many gardening articles and books. Some gardening advice I have read, is about as good as the free-range, hunky-dory chicken myth. Namely it doesn’t always work, and when it doesn’t the outcome is pretty ugly.
I have a split personality when it comes to gardening. I like the neat orderly rows, and I never want to put my garden to bed because I miss it so during the dark days. So much so, that I try to hang on much too long in removing plants. The gardening guilt trip is a long one – mulch, don’t mulch, throw firewood in the garden, don’t throw firewood in your garden, put lime on, don’t put lime on, till, don’t till. The list goes on and on and it’s as bad as politics, everyone is right. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’m a fairly good gardener and I really don’t need to jump on the next bandwagon that comes by, I am feeding my family and then some, so I don’t need some super-duper sliced bread different way to do my garden. That doesn’t mean I am against new things, you’ll find row cover and colored mulch in my garden and I do use a hoophouse so I’m not a total Luddite. But…
finding a way to be lazy is in my gardening tool kit also. I’ve discovered that being observant (while being lazy) is one of the better things a gardener has to be. So last year at this time when I was not wanting to say goodbye to my friend, the garden, I decided, “Yeah, calendula I like you, and I like seeing you blooming out here despite the frost. I won’t pull you out, you can keep blooming, I can keep enjoying some color and all will be well.”
Calendula and I enjoyed each others company last fall until one day I noticed the dogs taking a special interest in the tattered calendula row which just so happened was right next to my row of celery root. Weather had taken its toll on the calendula patch and it had fallen this way and that, onto quite a bit of the celery root row. Closer inspection revealed lots of vole tunnels and many vole trails through the calendula tangle, and many seed caches. The seed hoards I could live with, but the freeway to the celery root was too much. In my bliss of looking for flowers I had neglected to notice that by leaving the mass of plants next to the root crops, I was providing not only cover, but food in the way of seeds. By the time I discovered this, the voles had already hollowed out at least 25 celery root plants! That is a dent in the larder, my friends!
Needless to say, we didn’t have to plant any calendula this year, we just needed to thin it out! And yes I have pulled the main “bed” of calendula so as not to provide cover, and food for my furry garden adversaries. Now it remains to be seen if the voles will risk coming out of hiding to eat celeriac, or that was just a stroke of bad planning on my part last year. The other remaining question is, what will happen this year in the winter garden that I didn’t see coming?
Have neglect and procrastination taught you anything in the garden?