Monday, January 14, 2008

New Mother Gardening - 2008 Visions

For new mommas and new gardeners alike. My thoughts on keeping the garden season light and simple. I will miss starting my own seeds and some of my container garden plantings - but need to embrace sanity and time savers. For this spring, at least!


Whenever possible, let others do the seed starting. This is satisfying for two reasons - ready-to-plant seedlings and an excuse to visit and wander around local greenhouses. My wee papoose will join me as I visit Milmont Greenhouses in Stuarts Draft and Shady Lane Greenhouses in Free Union. Both offer heirloom varieties of tomatoes, other vegetables and herbs.

Pare down the container garden. This will be tough. Especially since I get into an irrational tizzy when I see a plant that can be nurtured in a container.

1. Allow small shrubs (boxwoods, arborvitae and dwarf spruces are fun), ivy and vinca to become the backbones of the container garden. Ivy and vinca are too invasive in settings other than a pot.

2. Stay away from multiple, small containers (they need more watering) and focus on the architectural offerings of larger containers.

3. Treat yourself to organic potting soil mix in a bag. Making my own potting soil ain't gonna happen this spring. Nope, it just ain't.

4. Remember the plants that thrive in the heat and a little bit of neglect - the fan flower, marigolds, geraniums, globe amaranth. Because, this year for sure, they *will* be neglected.

Vegetable Gardening - Stick to the No-Brainers. Tomatoes, zucchini, rhubarb, snap peas, green beans, different lettuce varieties, spinach, mustard greens, radishes. With the exception of the tomatoes and rhubarb, these can be started by sprinkling seeds directly into the earth - with some watering and high returns.

Cutting Flower Garden - Stick to the No-Brainers. Zinnias (as many varieties as possible - including Benary's Giant Mix and Sunbow Mix), cosmos, sunflowers, bachelor's button, calendula, nasturtium, love-in-a-mist, salvia, the Prized-Strain mix of sweet peas. These can be sown directly into the soil, as well. With little to-do.

The Herb Garden. I am going to move (most) of my herbs out to a raised bed. Too many of them are fussy in containers and seem to thrive with more soil, air and light. The herbs that like to run rampant (i.e. mints and lemon balm) will stay in large containers on our deck. Plus, they seem to be okay with that whole neglect-thing.

Mulch needs to be easy on the back and light as a feather. No hardwood mulch allowed. Think shredded leaves, pine needles, cardboard, straw. This will also cut back on watering.

Enjoy field trips and visits to nearby gardens. Even if I get out for an hour or two, I always-always-always find this rejuvenating. Through the Garden Gate tours (from the Charlottesville Virginia Cooperative Extension), Albemarle Garden Week, Ted Peter's azalea garden and Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

Remember the ants! Remember the anthills! Gardening is about contributing to your vision - one plant, one project, one weed-pulled- at-a-time. A seed resulting in an herb or a flower is to be cherished. A tomato plucked from your own garden is a victory - for yourself and for the local food movement. A lesson learned one year is a money and time saver for next year.

And so the cycle of gardening and the gardener goes. Every season will leave you knowing a little bit more, I promise. As for myself, I'm hoping that this upcoming season will teach me even more about the small steps. The small victories. Incremental gardening at its best.

P.S. Don't think I didn't notice that this list is still too long. Ugh. Crap.


Lonnie said...

Heh, looking out at the existing gardens, Sharon and I are already wondering how in the world we'll keep it all maintained now that baby Ariel is here. We're also wondering how we'll be able to make it all child safe (and make the garden safe from the child as well!!)

Dave said...

The great thing about kids is they like doing the outside "chores." My two year old daughter loves to follow me around the yard and help out with whatever I am working on. We don't try to make everything child safe, but we watch her constantly and teach her that certain things should not be done. The dangerous stuff is child proofed. Unfortunately there is nothing in your garden that will be safe from the child! If you don't already have one a baby harness/front carrier/snuggly thingy might be good to use for the newborn. We just had our second child and that carrier will probably see a lot of use this season.

Those are some good tips for making gardening a little easier with a young one!

Seppel Simon said...

I just found your blog via my friend Lotta Helleberg's blog, "InLeaf." Great blog...looking forward to coming back and reading more! And I want to point you about ten miles north of Sugar Hollow to the hollow where I garden at Mission Home. I have been doing a garden blog for about a year as well and thought you might like to read it and or link to it. Looking forward to meeting you sometime!

Josef Beery

Tracey said...

First of all, I love that I'm hearing from *dads* regarding this post (Congrats - Lonnie!). And to get Dave's thumbs up means a lot - that I am making some sense.

And welcome Josef! A neighbor and gardener. Too cool!