Gardening and the right to life

Lord, I am tired. Spring here is that time of year when everything has to be done at once for the rest of the year to happen as it should. This is complicated by the fact that for the last 7 years or so I’ve worked in town and was here an average of about 40 hours a week, including sleeping time. For the last 4 years, I was also going to school and burning up my vacation time with residencies and my weekend time with studies and papers, so frankly, everything was a mess. So I’m playing catchup.

I’m in triage mode. My daily activities are to some extent determined by what will cause the most damage if it’s put off another day.

The garden is very high priority at the moment. We have a short growing season, and if I want to grow hot weather things like tomatoes, I have to monitor every available opportunity to do soil prep and so forth and plan it in such a way that I’m not having an impact on the ability to do some things like tilling with power equipment at a later date. It’s been nuts.

But I am determined to grow a ripe watermelon at least once in my life.

I know things will settle down in a couple of weeks when most things are planted and it becomes mostly an issue of keeping water on. In this regard I have created a monster for myself this year, resurrecting four separate flower beds and a full garden, not to mention the hanging baskets and herb benches and all of that stuff. Plus I have about 24 baby trees in pots to nurture.

I’m a lousy gardener. I don’t have the strength to cull out the weak or extra plants. I want them all to grow, so tomorrow instead of thinning things like the spinach starts I’ll be carefully transplanting them and applying extra water to help ensure that they all survive. It’s stupid, but to just yank out surplus plants seems so wasteful.

If you haven’t already figured this out, I love growing things. I love the changing of the seasons, the way things struggle to make their way on the earth, and I really enjoy helping them out a bit.

Today Brenda and I visited a couple of neighbors up the valley who grow plant starts, and tomorrow is going to be one of those days that makes my body hurt. I was much saner than usual about my purchases, because in the forefront of my thoughts was this refrain: “If you buy it, you have to get it in the ground.”

But I’ve still got about 30 pickling cucumber plants to go in and God-knows-how-many Bodacious corn starts, and green and purple basil, Sugar Baby watermelons, and three kinds of onions. I have my home grown starts–four kinds of squash and long seedless cucumbers. I also have a bunch of herb seeds (special nightmare those-if the weather holds they’ll have to be watered at least three times a day). The herbs are critical for making the squash a gourmet treat and the little cucumbers into crispy pickles and the tomatoes and jalapenos into wonderful fresh salsa.

The cauliflower, broccoli, and an exorbitant amount of cabbage are growing leaps and bounds. The beans are up and thriving, the raspberries in full bloom with their early crop, the blueberries setting fruit, the little plum tree and Royal Anne cherry loaded with fruit.

Plus we have to get the new blueberry harem netting up, which means finishing the weeding in the last third of the bed and laying down the rest of the wood chip mulch. I was tired when I started this. Now I’m exhausted.

4 Responses to “Gardening and the right to life”

  1. whitishrabbit Says:


    Your posts have a tendency to make me hungry.

    Thanks for the New York Times link. I don’t know when I’ll find time, but I’m looking forward to settling in for a nice, long read.

  2. Philip Ferris Says:

    Marianne, I love to listen to gardners question time on the radio, to hear what professional gardners have to say but I love your blog even more.

    Thank you for taking the time to share.

  3. Susana Says:

    There are natural ways to keep your garden looking green and healthy. Maintaining your garden by lightly saturating it daily with water and using your compost soil will dramatically perk up the growth in your plants. The premium time to water your garden is in the early morning, so rise and shine! And for all those who can’t stand reeling in the hose, here is something for you. Check out the No Crank hose reel by going to the link below. The power of water pressure rewinds the hose so you don’t have to! Water is a vital part of a flower’s life, but too much can upset the delicate balance of nutrient production. Too little will have the same effect. The outward signs of too much water are wilting and yellowing of leaves, especially those in the inner areas of the plant. Vegetables need about an inch of water each week.

    A good way to test the texture of your soil is with the “Ribbon Test.” After you take a soil sample, roll it back and forth in your hand. If it sticks together easily, it is high in clay, if it simply falls apart, it is probably has a lot of sand. Clay soils don’t drain well and are difficult for the roots to penetrate. Sandy soils drain well but don’t retain nutrients. Adding organic material will help both sandy and clay soils. Not sure how to make compost, well it’s simple. Start with a layer of chopped leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste like banana peels, eggshells, old lettuce leaves, apple cores, coffee grounds, and whatever else is available. Keep adding materials until you have a six-inch layer, then cover it with three to six inches of soil, manure, or finished compost. Your plants will love this natural food! Did you know the soil can determine the color of the hydrangeas you grow? Check out the link below for some awesome gardening tips.

  4. mklekacz Says:

    Phil, thanks for the kind words. Rabbit, I think I’ve responded with my next post, and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the link if you can find time.

    Susana, thanks for the excellent information and useful link. We’re strictly organic here, have been for more than 25 years. Luckily we have very good soil, loamy but loose, old river bottom, just likes the occasional boost of a little BS and some homegrown woodchips on the acid loving stuff.

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