Friday, June 24, 2016

Inch One Hundred Twenty-Three: The Good Enough Garden

My Aunt Ginger has subscribed to Good Housekeeping for decades. When she finishes reading an issue, she passes it along to me, so I have been reading GH for decades as well.

There used to be a monthly feature, often showing a small DIY project, in which the editors would show the reader the "Good Housekeeping" (read "more expensive and more detailed") way to do it, then show the "Good Enough" (read "cheaper and less complicated") way to accomplish close to the same thing.

My garden this year is the Good Enough Garden.

As I wrote in May, before I left for my lengthy trip, I wanted to get my tomatoes and other plants in the garden. We accomplished that before I left. Warren watered my garden well and faithfully while I was gone. I came back to the basil doing great, the tomatoes starting to grow, and the peppers looking forlorn and pathetic (I do not know what is going on there). As I predicted, most of the marigolds I had hand-sowed in the perimeter blocks sprouted while I was away.

So had the pigweed. And so had the grass.

I don't have the physical energy or strength to weed regularly. Or even sporadically. I don't have the means to hire a gardener. I really just want the tomatoes and the flowers and the basil without all the interference. But for about the equivalent of my copays for a full three weeks of treatment ($90.00), I could finish my garden.

So I did what in the old days I would have considered cheating. In the old days, I would have started everything—flowers, vegetables, herbs—inside the house in the early spring and nurtured it along. I don't do that anymore: too much work, too little strength. So I bought three large containers of Blanket flowers (Gaillardia), four smaller containers of lavender, and five bags of mulch. Sunday morning Warren and I hoed up the garden. We were careful around the established plantings. The rest we slashed at with abandon.

Pigweed, be gone! Grass, be gone!

When we were done, I dug holes for the new plants. In they went. Then Warren got the shovel and dug the holes deeper. In they went again. Then I watered: the extra basil starts (from my good friend Donna) I had planted Saturday, the new plants, the marigolds, the tomatoes, even the pathetic peppers.

I can only work in the early morning (before 8:15 a.m.) or the evening because of the heat and sun. The mulch did not go down on Sunday, but Wednesday night (after chemo), I started to spread a few bags. I quickly measured my energy and realized the best "good enough" thing I could do was mulch around the vegetables, the herbs, and the new plantings. There are three bags of mulch yet to go, although one is earmarked for the front. I just transferred to the east side of the house, in the shade of the dogwood tree, some blue spiderwort and planted some pink spiderwort that a good friend gave me. It will probably get some mulch too to help it get going, although spiderwort is pretty hardy and takes root quickly.

I could have/should have put down newspaper for a weed cover before I started on the mulch, but I am too tired to do that too.

But it is done.

Here is my good enough garden. The tomatoes are starting to set fruit. The basil looks great. And the flowers are beautiful.


Laurie said...

Basil & tomatoes will get you far in so many meals, & flowers for their beauty are always a good choice, I think. I've relaxed my ideas on what "must be" over the years on several occasions. However different it looks for each of us, life is ever changing.

Darla said...

Good Enough looks very good to me. DH just had hip replacement surgery and I'm not a gardener. He's suffering the garden blues this summer as he wasn't able to plant much and not able yet to really take care of what he did plant. I do water and weed although I have to be directed as to what is a weed and maybe a volunteer of something he wants to keep. The birds still visit and don't seem to mind.

Ellen Goldstein said...

April, I think it is more than good enough! To me, (a city dweller), anyone who digs around in the garden and produces a useful crop for the table, or creates an artful piece of nature has my vote!!! You did both... Kudos!!!