Monday, September 22, 2008

Going Green:

Diary of a Lazy Gardener

I will admit it -- this time of year, I am an incredibly lazy gardener.

The gardening season begins so auspiciously for me. As soon as the sun is capable of warming the skin -- even for five minutes in February -- I get the itch to garden. It is as though my mind has a photosynthetic switch. I start going through seed catalogs and digging through last year's hastily stacked seedling trays. I start 8,000 different types of seeds, mostly flowers, but now also vegetables. I get them going under full-spectrum artificial light in the basement, misting them with water 2-3 times a day. My seedlings are like nested eggs waiting to hatch. When they do, I spend the month of April planning exactly how I can possible cram all 7,999 (one didn't germinate; I wonder why?) into my garden.

May is spent hardening seedlings, preparing them for the harsh reality known as the outside world. I introduce them to a lovely thing called sunshine. They usually love it. Around Mother's Day, I am ready to plant. The rest of the month is spent feeding and tending and watering to ease the transition from the crib to the nursery.

June is every gardener's golden month. The first fruits of the garden are harvested with enthusiasm and eaten at the very first opportunity. Flowers abound and the myriad shades of green that greet the eye wherever it may rest are in themselves fulfilling. The weeding is done religiously. There is not a plant out of place.

July is equally abundant, but the heat of the Illinois summer begins to nudge us indoors. The helping hands that had been so willing at planting time would rather be splashing in the pool or waving wildly as my children run through the sprinkler.

In August and September, I finally succumb to the wonder that is summer. My relentless pursuit of weeds, my insistence that watering follow a schedule, my careful measuring of the week's growth are forgotten in favor of the rigors of fun. To weed in August is pure asceticism.

And now September is drawing to a close, and after two months of walking from the house to the car with blinders on -- except to notice the pleasant surprises gardening has to offer, like our many 'volunteer' butterfly bushes or the delicious yellow cherry tomato plant that is flourishing, but that I most certainly did not plant -- I must force myself to open my eyes to the flood of fall garden chores that certainly face me.

This week promises to be a last breath of summer, and I am on the horns of a dilemma. Do I step backward and pretend September never happened? Or do I look at the jumbled chaos that is my late summer garden and dig in to the long work ahead?

I must admit, I am undecided. The idle person inside me could again claw her way to the surface.

Then again, she just might be too lazy to claw. Maybe she'll just mosey.

- Midwest Mom


  1. I have a confession to make. I spent all my free time at work between your politics blog and printing your recipes. Then I read this post this morning about gardening and I'm totally inspired to do something next year with the garden I inherited when we bought our house last November. I love the idea of having a bunch of seeds to pick from and something to look foward to each month. This year I just sort of observed as new flowers poked up and weeded when the urge struck which might have only been twice.

    I think you should look at the jumbled chaos that is in your late summer garden and dig in to the long work ahead because I bet the end result will be worth it. See I'm one of those do as I say people while my mums are being upstaged by weeds at this very moment.

  2. Laurie -- yay! You can read my stuff anytime. :)

    You know, the more I thought about the garden chores, the more I'm inclined to agree with you. The key for me is the seeds. If I clear the garden a bit, I can actually plant another patch of lettuce and spinach like I did in the spring. There's nothing better than salad you just picked!

    Plus, tulip bulbs will grow much better in a garden that isn't so jumbled... So I'd better roll up my sleeves. Thanks for the encouragement. -MM

  3. You won't get encouragement from me--I say look the other way--pretend the yard belongs to someone else--park your car in another area so you don't have to walk past the garden. :)

  4. Good to know that I'm not the only one who starts letting go of the weeding in September. I haven't decided either whether I am going to tackle the clean up task this weekend, but at least I'm not sitting on the fence alone.


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