Category Archives: gardening

Dear Resistant Gardener

Fothergilla Mt. Airy courtesty of Wiki Commons

Fothergilla Mt. Airy courtesy of Wiki Commons

What a funny banner ad in Gmail. Oh…it actually read “Deer Resistant Gardens.” So, there are simple solutions to cope with the deer, but what are we going to do about gardeners like me? There really are things growing in my garden. I catch Peter, or possibly Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail with nose pressed up against the netting wound around the raised beds both morning and evening. Still, I remain convinced that this is a secret society, that everyone else is gardening the “right” way, and I am going about it all wrong.

What vegetable should I plant next? Should I pull the ferns that are growing among the hydrangea out? The hydrangea do seem to be deer and rabbit resistant, as there they are, soon ready to bloom. The ferns are pretty, but it seems to me that they are choking the hydrangea. And I am beset by bigger questions: are any of these things native plants? Shouldn’t I be planting native plants?

Yes, I am a classic overthinker (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=overthinker.)

Seeds better not be RoundUp Ready, or they are not welcome in my garden. In that case, I prefer the dandelions and clover. Isn’t there a clever scientist out there who will defeat the evil Monsanto empire by making a RoundUp ready dandelion and spreading it, helter-skelter, everywhere? That could spell the end of RoundUp! After much consternation and Googling, I have determined that Burpee is still a family owned seed company based in Philadelphia. The two pots of Burpee bell peppers purchased for planting in the garden are, therefore, “ethical” bell peppers, non-GMO, and not RoundUp ready.

The time has come to stop thinking, be happy with my spring crop, soon ready for harvest, and start planting a summer crop. Not only do we have rich compost from our own yard waste and plant matter, but compost from our town’s compost program. We give them revolting stuff, almost any conceivable organic (carbon-based) matter and we have now had rich, black compost returned to us, filling our last, waiting garden box, to the brim.

Thankfully, we have a doer as well as a thinker in the family. A Fothagilla Mt. Airy shrub now festoons the front border. The Fothagilla is a native plant–a native southeastern plant, and we are in the Mid-Atlantic region–but I am no longer resisting. The climate here is not that different from that of Georgia is it? Now I hope our Fothagilla Mt. Airy survives to show its resplendent fall foliage.

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It Takes a Village to Grow a Gardener

Coypu Courtesy of Wiki: Eat Your Vegetables!

Coypu Courtesy of Wiki: Eat Your Vegetables!

While I was sitting on the porch this morning, broccoli seedlings at my feet, a man arrived to repair the crumbling porch steps. We didn’t discuss the steps much.

The experienced gardener generously complimented me on how my garden was coming along. I have two cherry tomato plants, not started from seed and confess that it is not a beautiful garden. We commiserated on the difficulties of starting bell peppers from seed. Out of two sets of ten seeds, started indoors, I have one minuscule pepper plant. First I overwatered, and then underwatered the second time I tried.

When discussing the tomato plants, I explained that the tomatoes doing well thus far are Golden Globe cherry tomato plants. I have never succeeded in producing larger healthy fruit. Also an organic gardener, my morning mentor gardener suggested that a bit of lime around the base of tomato plants would be helpful against blights. The horn worms require me to be more vigilant. That means spending more time outdoors in the garden.They always seem to find the largest, plumpest tomatoes, just as they are almost ready to harvest. When I find the happily munching horn worms, I just toss them along with their bounty into the ivy or compost pile.

Robert, my mentor gardener of the day, made me more consciously aware of gardening culture. He has thirty tomato plants in his garden, and donates the surplus to his neighbors and either VFW or VVA.

Not only was Robert happy to share expertise and encourage my novice efforts, but he shares the physical fruits of his labor as well. Are there grumpy gardeners? Thus far, my efforts begun in early April have demonstrated that not only plants are cultivated in the gardening process. So, it seems, are the people tending the plants and the soil they grow in. The smell of earth, the dirt under my finger nails, and caring for the little seedlings and tender young plants will, I hope, cultivate me as well and make me worthy of this giving, sharing sub-culture.

My past solo efforts have not been very fruitful. Maybe my efforts as a novice accepting help from the gardening community will, with persistence, bear enough ripe fruit for me to share.

Beware of a woman bearing summer squash! So far, I have three surviving plants. Four of eight seeds sprouted and one poor donated and transplanted seedling was mercilessly weed-whacked. So the world may not be overrun with summer squash just yet. Is it possible to grow too many peas? The first crop is sprightly and soon ready to flower. With success comes temptation and the desire for more. It often turns out that there is a clutch of baby bunnies being raised inside the garden enclosure, so planting more may stave off disappointment should Peter Rabbit and his family come calling.

In theory, I do not object to eating rabbit. Eating wild rabbits as well as the deer that are destroying our forests here would help our threatened Sourlands survive. Eating wild boar and nutria (large rodents also called coypu, species m. coypus) that are uprooting native plants and destroying swamps in Louisiana would also be a public service. In practice, all of the above critters are quite safe from my clutches or landing in my All-clad cookware. The pots and pans will be brimful with peas, carrots, and broccoli anyway!