I’ve posted a lot about gardening and plants in general over the last few years, from last month’s update to a post four years ago (has it been that long?) talking about how I was settling back in after months of taking care of my mom in her final decline. I’ve written about using plants in your fiction writing. (And I’ll do it again! You can’t stop me! bwahahahahah…)
My Twitter feed, in season, has a high ratio of plant pictures, and I’m constantly sending photos of my garden to my friends and family. Most of my posts and images were on Shuffle, but that once promising site, alas, appears to be dead in the water, and everything I posted is, as far as I can tell, gone.
Very annoying. I’ll go work that off by pulling weeds in a bit…
You know what else is annoying? Seeing posts on Pinterest that provide really bad advice. Like adding sand to clay soil as an amendment (it becomes, essentially, cement). And putting tomato slices in a pot to grow tomato plants (yes, it can be done, but you’ll likely be wasting your time, it won’t flower or fruit. Just buy the fucking $1.50 packet of seeds already).
And all the freaking advertisements and popups on every damn site you click through to. Is it a term of service for Pinterest or something, that you have to have popups that override the content at random intervals and have tiny “x” buttons you can’t hit after fifteen tries on a touch screen?
Gardening and emotion are inextricably linked for me. I’ve burst into tears while watering the lone orchid of my mom’s that I’ve managed to keep alive so far; I’ve worked off anger by savagely digging holes and moving plants; I’ve had profound moments of calm and rebalancing while inspecting my plants in the evenings. It’s absolutely standard for me to go into the garden when I’m stressed, or to fuss about with houseplants. Touching dirt, feeling the leaves, looking at the new growth and flowers, is very healing for me.
Pulling weeds, breathing steam, pulling weeds….
I mostly taught myself gardening. Like cooking, it’s something my mom was good at — great at, for gardening, in her later years — but she never did well with explaining or teaching. And I was a lousy student, anyway, always too sure I knew better and impatient to get on to the next thing already. I’ve learned to slow down a bit, but I’m still making lots of rushed mistakes.
For example, when I set up the first raised bed at our new house, I put two zebra grass plants close together. I didn’t expect the tiny things to get that big that fast, but by this summer they were smothering the lavender and rosemary I’d put between them.
I compounded the initial error this week by digging out one of the zebra grasses and moving it to the other end of the raised bed, providing visual balance. Unfortunately, that wound up killing the lovely rosemary bush on the other side of that zebra grass clump, and the displaced grass itself is looking like it’s in a fight for its life. It’s been very hot and humid, and despite lots and lots of watering, I suspect I just wasted a whole lot of sweat.
Annoying. Time to pull more weeds…
I’m moving flowering plants into the empty spots of the raised bed, giving it a very different appearance than the original intent. But that’s part of what’s fun about gardening! Every year, things move around and plants that did great last year flop over and need to be replaced, while plants that barely grew leaves last year burst into three foot high sprays of happy foliage and flowers. It’s all about resiliency.
I still have most of my plants in pots on my raised deck, because our soil is really heavy clay with a lot of tree roots. We’re amending it, but that takes time and patience. I’ve been building raised beds as we have time and money, but I will say that the plants up on the deck are having much less trouble with bugs than I expected.
They dry out a bit faster, but I’ve got a routine worked out for blazing summer days. For pots too big for me to pick up, I have a small plastic pot filled with gravel sunk into the soil, and I just water into that. The water goes down to the roots instead of pooling on the surface. Much easier, less labor, more efficient. Pots that I can lift get put into a kiddie pool filled with water about halfway up for a couple hours. That generally holds them over for a day or two before they need the treatment again.
I’m a big fan of plants that thrive on benign neglect, like mint, oregano, lemon balm, rosemary … well, herbs in general are all very simple to maintain. I’ve been tentatively branching out into vegetables and flowering plants. I’ve gotten pretty solid with growing Thai chile peppers and I think I’ve got a handle on tomatoes finally, after years of every mistake in the book.
I have two pink blueberry bushes that appear completely unwilling to set flower, let alone fruit, but I’m hoping they just need another year to mature. I’m nursing along a lilac sapling that, likewise, isn’t inclined to bloom just yet. There are wild black raspberries on the property that I’m researching how to tame and encourage; we have several chokecherry plants growing wild, and a lovely stand of American Black Elderberry.
Cutting down several large trees this year revealed an absolutely stunning set of magnolia trees scattered around the property, which were so excited by the sudden access to sunlight that they burst into prolific bloom for weeks.
I routinely find the weirdest freaking mushrooms scattered around the property, and I’ve had to load a couple of nature identifying apps on my phone to figure out what I’m looking at. This one is chicken of the woods, which is apparently quite edible and very tasty. I’m still skeptical… Once I get a mushroom expert to absolutely ID it, I might try it on its next “blooming”.
As I’ve referenced in a recent post, this has been one hell of a year, on multiple fronts. But the garden doesn’t care. The garden just does its thing, and the bugs do their thing, and the birds and deer and chipmunks and squirrels … etc. I do my little weeding and trimming and planting things, and it’s a really, really lovely disconnect from the outside world. I don’t know how long I’ll have this little slice of peace and quiet and nature, so I intend to appreciate every moment of it that I get.
Even if it means pulling a lot of weeds.
Hey! I now have a Ko-Fi. If you liked this post, please drop a dime in the bucket and make me want to write more!
Here’s a lovely big American Black Elderberry, well established. We also have huge stands of chokecherries. Both of these are supposed to be great survivalist plants, so that’s pretty cool…. as long as I never actually need to rely on them!