Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bad Habits

I am far from a perfect gardener, in fact I have developed several relatively poor gardening habits over the years. One of my shortcomings came to light yesterday when harvesting the garlic bed.

I was cleaning everything out for a compost enhancement when I unearthed the ginger root I planted only days ago (and which surprising had grown tons of hairy little roots and fingers already!).

This is a very bad habit - keeping track of what has gone into the earth and where. I tend to see a potential opening between plants and boing! Dig a hole and shove something in without marking it.

These wild planting sprees occur with great regularity. It is with a true joie de vivre that I approach the garden with spade and seeds in hand. Then later, when the sprouts pop up, I can't identify which is which and weed them out. This season alone, I have accidentally weeded out spinach, carrots, parsnip, basil and lettuce. All to my great regret. Just because I don't keep track.

Which brings me to the overcrowding pattern. I like planting so much, I jam things into every conceivable spot of soil. Every artist knows that negative space is what makes a painting. Well, it makes a garden too and my garden needs more negative space. Plants need room to stretch and grow to their full potential. I'm suppressing them by jamming them all in together. 30 to a classroom please!

Another bad habit - over watering. It gives me a reason to "be with" the vegetation. (I bet there are other gardeners out there who understand this.) My need to be with the plants extends beyond the normal time constraints of daylight. Yes, I have even been known to night garden... in slippers.  I just haul out the old shop lights from the garage, and flood the garden like a Hollywood premiere complete with klieg lights. Doubtless, the neighbors think there is some sort of event going on back there. But no, it's just me and my spade.

I tend also to allow insects to ravage leafy greens at will. Sometimes to total obliteration, because I believe in my heart that there's enough to go around for all, and that the pursuit of perfection leads to toxic pesticides. By mid summer the pests have found the foliage and much of the leafy goodness is nibbled away. This sharing philosophy was hammered into my head as a child, and now extends to all living creatures. Even slugs.

But despite all these shortcomings, my garden always produces and always provides. Food for my table, flowers for my home, and an uplift for my spirit. I can't say my garden has ever made me feel inadequate, unwanted, downtrodden or depressed. Rather the contrary. We're a team. And that team spirit makes me happy, every single time.

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