Accessing the Health of the Garden

Learning about accessing the health of a garden and its crops, including: fresh clues, nutrition, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, over watering, large critters and insects.

| June/July 1997

Visiting the garden is what separates a gardener from a green thumb, learn about accessing the health of a garden. (See the garden photos in the image gallery.)

Gardens don't like to be neglected. Unlike a cat or dog, a garden can't jump into your lap or bark for attention. Gardeners have to initiate contact. One way to do that is to plant the garden on either side of a well-traveled path like between where you park the car and the house. Another way is to include a visit to the garden in the daily routine when accessing the health of a garden—get up, go to the bathroom, visit the garden, shower, eat breakfast . . .

A garden that is forgotten is a garden that has a diminished chance of doing well. There are, of course, exceptions, like the tomatoes we planted our first summer in Maine. Weeds grew up around them supporting them better than if we had staked them or put a wire basket around them. The high grass surrounding them protected them from the wind and no predators, either insect or animal, found them. We happened upon them just as the fruit was ripening and considered ourselves truly blessed.

That is the only success story I have of a neglected garden. Don't jump to the conclusion that the opposite of a neglected garden is one that needs constant care. I am a lazy gardener. If my garden demanded constant attention, I would probably try to find something else to make me feel useful while puttering. I'm pretty sure puttering is my favorite hobby, not gardening. The garden just happens to work well for a putterer. T think that if you did a survey of people who supposedly have a green thumb you would find that one characteristic was pretty universal—they visit their garden fairly regularly. Visiting is different from going out to weed or thin or stake the tomatoes or pick beans. Visiting is just dropping by to admire it, to see if the carrots have broken the ground yet, to see if there are tomatoes on the vine or if any are turning color. It may be the favorite place to watch the sun rise or set or to think about what the next day might bring.

I am going to take you on some of my visits to my garden over the years and you will get the idea. You'll learn how to deal with some of the various animals that also visit gardens and you'll see how this simple and pleasurable routine works.

When I was working a regular job I would come home during the growing season and instead of relaxing with a drink or cup of tea I would head for the garden. It was best if I changed my pants first as it is really difficult to spend much time in a garden without dropping a knee now and then. I think we ought to be called brown knees rather than green thumbs.

2/4/2008 5:15:27 PM

Okay…for all those looking for something to inspire them. I think I’ve found it. I own a pond and love the natural look of my water feature, yet long for something to spice things up every once in a while (when entertaining). Well…I found it!!! It is a remote controlled, floating fountain that doesn’t require any installation. It came to me complete with EVERYTHING in it! For me, the untechnical one, I was delighted that I didn’t have to do anything but plug it in and turn on the remote. It cycles through different spray and light effects and can shoot as tall as 10 feet high ALL BY THE REMOTE! Wow, now that is convenient. The interesting thing for me is that I thought I would only use it occasionally. But, I find it is intoxicating to watch and a nice change of scenery when I can turn it on for a couple hours a night (kind of like a fireplace) and then turn it off when I got to bed. It is really relaxing to listen to. Check it out!

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