Confessions of a Relaxed Gardener

| 1/6/2016 10:29:00 AM

Periwinkle vinca bloom New Year's Day

Relaxed, laid-back, lackadaisical… all words I prefer over monickers like lazy to describe my approach to gardening. I always delight in tripping across explanations others come up with that explain (and support) my particular methods to madness. I’ve discovered that lasagna-style, no-till, and permaculture line up quite nicely with the practices I’ve established over the years while building new beds and generally lessening maintenance requirements. Regardless of what some might call my form of gardening, I call it comfortable to do and comforting for me.

I have friends who judiciously tuck their garden in each autumn and dutifully resurrect it each spring. One in particular has a beautifully landscaped piece of property that offers the solace of any number of my favorite parks. My own mother, the queen of blossomy green thumbs, arranges the most beautiful containers each year. Her arrangements look show-perfect all season long as she deadheads, weeds, preens, feeds, and tends to her living sculptures of color. I’ll admit to having intermittently wistful thoughts of following their practices. Then, I remember who and how I am and I return to my happy place of relaxed chaos.

My usual routine is to let my overgrown weeds stay in place all winter long as I sequester indoors; first preserving, canning, and fermenting; then arting, writing, and generally turning inward while Mother Nature has her will with colder playtime. I prefer to watch the big chill from my nest of indoor warmth. As much as I might enjoy looking out at the altered beauty that colder weather can produce, I generally avoid having to actually immerse in it as much as possible.

Since our personal shift to less lawn and more natural area, there have been more opportunities for the weeds and volunteers to establish themselves around our piece of paradise. I am only one body and have to prioritize my time, after all. Weeds are generally very low on my priority list as I work around the garden creating new beds, vignettes, and boosting the morale of each of my intentionally invited babies. Always one to find silver linings, I’ve found a definite side benefit of letting the weeds go is seeing the birds supping on them all winter long. Of course, their dining turns into beautifully fertilized future seeding but...

So, normally, each springtime I release that ball of energy, slowly gathered over the winter, and burst outdoors to pull all the weeds, ready the beds, build anew, and prepare the garden for all the seedlings I’ve started indoors. It’s not unusual for me to put in 12-hour days in my garden come March and April. After cathartically ripping out all the weeds, I add straw mulch on top of my visqueened beds each spring. This cuts down on a lot of the weeding in the vegetable beds while conserving moisture and retaining early spring warmth.

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