Imperfection In The Garden

Fine Gardening recently asked in its online newsletter, “Is Lazy Gardening A Thing?” Their answer was emphatically a “Yes!”

Similarly, as post in the Lee Valley Newsletter (Vol. 9, Issue 8) talked about how being a “lazy gardener was quite an advantage sometimes. Specifically, that post was about saving lettuce seeds.

But I was surprised to even see the question asked.

Back when I worked 30 plus hours in retail gardening, plus at least that many hours in my law practice and lectured (in other words, 7 days a week, including nights and weekends), I would smile when people at the garden center would say to me “I’m SO busy I don’t have time to garden!”

I would simply tell them that of course they had time to garden–everyone has time to garden–they just had to be a “lazy gardener” like I was. And I would simply explain some of the things that I did–things that are now being written up in the magazines as brilliant, creative new strategies. Unfortunately, that was one of the things I did not do–write an article–or multiple articles, or even a book–about all my tips. Oh well. Steve Silk probably wishes he had trademarked that “Spiller, Filler, Thriller” concept too!

I think all gardeners learn tricks and techniques as they start to garden and then, the more they garden, they learn to adapt what works for them and to discard the rest. So my next few posts will share with you what I’ve struggled to learn over the years.

One of the hardest things for me to learn to discard was the concept of perfection, particularly when I was working all those hours (and even now). I haven’t read a lot of articles, books or blog posts about it, but I’ve seen a few that say it’s okay to just do the minimum necessary, particularly to keep the weeds at bay.

I call it weed triage and there’s specific method to my madness. First, weed out anything with flowers on it. Anything that’s about to set seed has to go.

Next, get anything that’s really thirsty. Even if you don’t live in a drought prone climate, you don’t want weeds stealing water from your precious plants. So here I’m talking about thinks like large weeds like pokeweed, and perennial weeds like brambles–things like that (unless you have a purpose for them)

And, by the end of the season, weed out anything perennial. That’s it. Other than that, I weed when I can.

That’s just one of the ways I fight “imperfection.” On Monday, I’ll talk about some of the ways I’ve tried to make my life easier as a gardener.

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