G ifts for Gardenr
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By Lyn Chimera

What a rollercoaster spring we’ve had. There was a little bit of everything: cold, hot, wet, and dry. It seemed like Mother Nature just couldn’t make up her mind. Out of all this unusual and changeable weather, there were a lot of lessons to be learned. The most important one was that you can’t fight Mother Nature! Instead of starting the much anticipated spring gardening season in April, we were still shoveling!

That’s the first lesson, gardening chores just can’t be done according to the calendar. That’s why there are so many sayings like, “Prune roses when the forsythia is in bloom.” Ordinarily, April is when you can start to transplant and divide, but not this year. When the soil and air are that wet and cold, it’s time to think about what you want to do in the garden, but not actually do it. Cold, wet soil is clumpy and doesn’t settle around the roots very well. This leads to air pockets around the roots, which can cause the roots to dry out. In addition, if the soil is below 50 degrees, root growth is prohibited so the plants won’t settle in as well. This goes for planting vegetable starts as well. As an example, studies show that tomato plants planted when the soil is cold never attain the vigor of those planted after the soil is warm enough.

Another example of not gardening according to the calendar is dividing and moving existing perennials. Usually May and early June are good times for this chore, but not this year. Once it did warm up, it seemed the perennials grew so fast you could actually see the difference day by day. Some of my perennials got so large that once the hot dry weather arrived I wasn’t about to move them. When a perennial is almost full grown, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome the shock of being moved and/or divided. In cool rainy weather, I might have tried it but it was so hot and dry that it was not wise. I listened to nature and will wait until fall to do the rest of the garden redecorating.

The next lesson is one I definitely won’t repeat. Keep up with the weeding! As soon as the weather permitted, I started potting up plants for my annual perennial and native plant sale. Basically, I had 2 ½ weeks to pot up about 600 perennials. Needless to say, I ignored all other garden chores including weeding. Not only were the perennials growing fast, so were the weeds. I have been paying the price ever since. Never have the weeds taken over as much as this year. Not only are the weeds growing like…weeds, but some have set seed which means they will be returning. Just yesterday, I finally finished weeding and mulching. It’s taken a long time and a lot of frustrating effort. All the while, I kept thinking how if I had just kept up with it and spent extra time each day after potting up, the weeds wouldn’t have been such a problem.

That brings me to the final lesson of this spring. I just can’t get as much done each day as I used to. Not only do we have to follow nature’s cues in the garden, we have to follow our body’s cues. Most of you reading this publication are in the “mature” age bracket like myself. When I think back to when I was working full time, I used to garden after dinner until dark and put in a full day on the weekend. No more. Three or four hours are all I can do. Sometimes I push it longer by taking a break in the middle. Whatever is your energy level, you have to listen to your body to avoid injury.

More and more people are wanting a consultation about how to reduce their gardening chores. There are many things you can do to diminish the scope of a garden. Contact me if you want to set up an appointment.

We have no idea what this summer will be like. Whatever it turns out to be, DON’T FIGHT MOTHER NATURE!

To contact me at Lessons from Nature, call 652-2432 or e-mail at lyn@lessonsfromnature.biz. I can e-mail or mail the gift certificates.