Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gardening the lazy way

Gardening can be relaxing - communing with nature, fingers melding with earth, the beauty that results. But, in reality that is only part of gardening. The other half - the bugs, the sore back and knees, the heat, not being able to tell what is plant and what is weed - have a tendency to turn people off gardening. I would love to spend more time tending the flower beds that my landlord plotted out. But, per our lease agreement, all I have to do is keep the leaves out and keep the flowers alive. I wanted to do more - weeding, planting more, enjoying the results of some labor. That's when I discovered there are a few things that we can do to lessen the ickies of gardening.

  1. Grow plants in a window box or planter. Usually these are further off the ground allowing you to stand or sit to tend to your green lovelies.
  2. Do the planting yourself and create a diagram. Also, only plant plants that you know you can recognize. If you do the planting, you'll know where exactly each plant and bulb are. If you make a diagram and store it with your important paperwork (or even with your gardening tools) you'll always know which plants are wanted and which are weeds. Plant flowers that have distinguishing leaves or branches such as irises, raspberries, yuccas, or roses.
  3. Try to avoid weeds altogether. Lay a weed barrier down when you're preparing your soil and cut holes to plant your flowers.
  4. Plant perennials, that way you won't have to buy and replant each year. Yucca, roses, raspberries, strawberries, irises, grape hyacinth, and crocuses.
  5. Don't forget about prepping your plants for winter. You'll want to dead head roses, trim irises and raspberries, clear out your flower beds, and fertilize your plants to ensure that they survive a winter hibernation and will come back fully restored and ready to bloom and produce the next spring.
  6. Think sustainability. Plant something that you and your family can benefit from. This can include a whole garden or perhaps a tomato plant on your back patio. Don't forget about the long term commitment of apple, peach, cherry, apricot, plum, and pear trees. While it may take a few years for these trees to grow, you can look forward to fresh fruit that comes from your own backyard. Not only will it save you money, but if you have surplus you can actually make money by selling it yourself or selling it to local supermarkets or fruit stands.
These steps will help ensure that your gardening continues to be a fun, fulfilling activity more so than just being a chore. Unfortunately, there isn't much that we can do about bugs, slugs, and other creepy crawlies. Most insects are beneficial for plants and the soil. If you find that they are harming your plants try planting garlic, onion, or mint alongside your other plants. Or you may have to try chemicals, but remember if you do: make sure to keep children and pets away from the area and wash your produce thoroughly. Remember, gardening is a leisure activity, so enjoy the quiet and get in touch with nature.