Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gardening with trepidation

It's that time of year when the catalogues come out and garden plans are sketched and seeds get started. Normally my pulse rate rises as the promise of spring draws nigh.

This year, I'm feeling hesitant and a little wary. Increasingly erratic weather has made gardening more difficult, with less-satisfactory results, caused by too much or too little rain and plagues among the pollinators and insect eaters so that the pest equation is out of whack -- along with my yard's inherent shortage of sunlight and good soil.

Now I have to add plant protection devices, not only to extend the growing season, but also to help my vegetables survive the growing season itself! Such devices cost money, take time to assemble, and add more complication to an already hit-or-miss enterprise. The prospect inspires a great big sigh.

Of course, none of this will stop me. Like most gardeners, I can't bear the idea of not trying again. And again, and again . . .

Skipping a year -- or stopping altogether -- would upset my sense of life cycle and balance far more than any crop failures. Then there's the awe generated by the strength and creativity of plants themselves.

Short of catastrophic weather that strips away the entire surface (e.g., hurricanes, century floods, wildfires, and tornadoes), plants will survive anything. In the wettest years, the driest years, the pestilence years, the coldest years, a garden will always produce something. It will survive good-old-fashioned neglect, as well. I once rented an apartment in a farmhouse where nobody had gardened for decades. Yet asparagus still grew three feet tall in the front yard!

So I've got my seed order together and the garden plan drawn. I've started rummaging through scrap piles in the yard to find materials for making supports and frames for weather shields and bug screens. Recent home renovations have donated enough scrap copper to warrant trying that slug-deterrent trick I read about. Renovations have also opened up space in the living room (whose south end is floor-to-ceiling windows) to set up more experiments in indoor gardening.

Weather and pests be damned! I'm gonna have a garden no matter what Mother Nature throws our way.

(Now, what will I be saying about all this in September?)

Carolyn Haley

Author: The Mobius Striptease (e-novel, Club Lighthouse Publishing)
Open Your Heart with Gardens
(nonfiction, DreamTime Publishing)
First-year blog archives at

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