I couldn’t help but join my fellow gardeners with posts airing a bit of their dirty laundry. You know why? Because at some point during the year, we’ve all got some.
Here is my most recent bit of what some may call ugly. Shall we list the crimes? Let’s see… how about we start with my chicken wire leaf bin? That’s lovely, isn’t it? And in the upper left we have a utility pole. Not really my fault. I didn’t put it there. But shouldn’t I petition the city to get it moved because it’s ugly? Next there’s the weeds. Funny how when you add a bit of water to soil and warm it with a few sunny days the weeds just seem to keep sprouting. You can also see my stack of used pots in the lower right corner. Some are quite usable while others are cracked and broken. Near the stack are also a couple of … gasp… plastic pots. Finally, we have the bare pathways and although I think they are wide enough they lack any sort of covering or pizazz. Which concludes this list of my gardening crimes.
What I normally see when I look at this photo, is something completely different, however. Perhaps I’m in denial or perhaps I have an overly optimistic view of life, but this photo makes my gardening spirit happy. First off, there’s that ugly chicken wire leaf bin. I’m pretty proud of that. I hammered 4 pieces of PVC into the ground so that I can slip the bin in when I need and pull it our and store it when I don’t. Sure, I would like something fancy, but it reused items I already had on hand, so they didn’t just clutter up my shed and it cost me no extra money for money is tight this year. The shredded leaves in the bin will eventually be worked into my new batch of compost as I create my layers. The compost will then go back into the ground allowing me to make good use of all my clippings and kitchen scraps.
Next there are those two mostly bare beds. When I look at these I still see two mostly bare beds, but they are new beds. The area they are in was up until last spring in complete shade! Then my neighbor cut down his aging elm. The size of my growing area for vegetables doubled. Fantastic! This also meant, however, that I had to dig up all the Vinca major that had taken over the area happily living out it’s days in the shade. Not a simple task and one that has taken me more than a few weekends of work. Although you can’t see them in this shot, until last weekend those two plastic containers contained a raspberry and a olallieberry plant. I rescued them from the dumpster at work when they had been thrown out last year towards the end of bareroot season. Their permanent home was months from being ready so I slipped them into some plastic pots that I had also saved. For the past year they have been growing and even producing a few berries in these pots. I’m happy to say they now have a permanent home against the back fence and will hopefully have some friends soon.
Another thing you can’t yet see in this shot is the garlic and onion plants that were newly planted in the upper bed. I’m totally excited about these plants. Having such limited space in the past, I could never even dream of devoting the room to plants that had such a long growing season. Now, not only can I have them, but I can grow plenty. It’s about three weeks after this photo was taken and the little green tips are about two inches above the soil. For the first time in my life, I will harvest my own garlic.
Next we come to the the utility pole and the pathways. There really isn’t anything I can do about the utility pole. It’s there to stay so i just ignore it. I’m happier to have the space to plant with a pole in it, than not have the space at all. As for the pathways, covering them with something permanent won’t be in the budget again this year, so I will be using straw. It helps lock in the moisture and keeps the weeds down. As it decomposes it will eventually improve the soil beneath it.
Finally we have the weeds. I’ve actually already weeded that section once this season, but with the amount of rain we have been having they just sprout right back up. I could use Roundup and blast them quickly, but I don’t use chemicals. That leaves good old fashioned hand weeding which I will do sooner rather than later. It’s job security really. There is always something to do in the garden and it gives me an excuse to get outside whenever I can find the time. I love having projects and plans before me and honestly fear the day when I look out into my yard and have nothing to do. Gardening is a verb after all.