Friday, October 19, 2018

Garden Harder, Not Smarter

Garden Harder, Not Smarter

I was horrified.

It's easy to horrify me. Newspapers and TV news succeed daily. I expect it.

What I didn't expect was to read a gardening newsletter today and find feelings of horror reawakened. An article titled “Garden Smarter, not Harder,” was reprinted from another newsletter, so clearly more than one person liked it. Perhaps you've read many of these listings of clever ways to do things quickly and without effort. In no time at all you're on the coach, feeling that you've earned the next three hours of beer, chips and TV golf.

You want to work smarter in the garden? Use a computer!

No, no, NO! If I listed below all the articles in magazines and newspapers, as well as self-help books explaining the value of exercise, the internet would be full and shut down. OK, if you argue that shut down's a good thing, I'll listen.

There are so many studies showing our life span extending with more exercise, as well as our health span, there is hardly an argument against activity.

I remember a very old joke: “I get my exercise going to the funerals of my friends who exercise.” Well, at least the jokester is getting some exercise.

Running and walking are still the best, most time-efficient exercises.

Don't use a wheelbarrow to carry sticks to the compost pile. Make two trips and carry them in your arms. The walking is a credit toward your future. Carrying the wheelbarrow, is even better.

A riding mower? Seriously? A gardener shouldn't have masses of grasses. Turn the area into a large patch of azaleas and hosta. Year-by-year, shrink the grassy areas until they're just paths through your garden beds. Then a push-mower will be fine. Don't push me or I'll go on about how a push-mower still beats a riding mower: muscle exercise of calves, thighs, glutes, pecs, forearms. Good for the heart, lungs, digestive system. You'll sleep better, too.

When age and prior injuries make it difficult to do something, do it anyway, but slower. Dig that hole with a trowel, not a shovel. With a spoon, not a trowel. Whatever you can manage. You're not late for anything when you're gardening; you're involved; in the moment.

A garden is never done. That's the fallacy of a landscape architect. The entrepreneur struts in, creates a garden with a pile of hardscape, patio furniture and plants from a big box store, then walks away with a check in her purse. Done.

No, no, NO! A gardener's garden is never finished. Improve the soil in the beds. Replace a good plant with a better one. Move one that doesn't look so good over there to a place by the ferns. Trim a couple of branches to let in more light. Prune some bushes to make them appear more dense. (But, if you make them look like gumballs, I'm coming after you. I know where you live.)

Skip the power equipment. If cutting up the fallen branch with a hand saw takes three days instead of one, OK.

Planning a new bed, digging the hole, mixing the soil for it, planting, mulching, and watering the new arrivals may take months. OK. But, do it by hand.

Don't forget to invite me over to see the results. I'm waiting, camera in hand, and I won't be horrified!


  1. There's a yard full of gumballs up the street from me!

    1. Got an azalea lecture this afternoon. After that, I'm on this case!