February is the time of year when we’re all looking forward to this year’s garden and trying to figure out what went wrong last year. So here’s my best February gardening advice to get you started.
Relax About Your Garden
Gardening isn’t rocket science and nobody is going to lose their life if you make a mistake or a bug eats a plant.
The end of the world is not going to be visited upon us if a caterpillar or earwig takes a chunk (or ten) out of a flower.
In fact, if a caterpillar takes a chunk, it simply means that there will soon be a butterfly in your garden.
Take the thirty-foot view of your garden. If your garden still looks good when you’re thirty feet away from the plants, all is still well in your world.
Yes, if you get a little closer you’ll see the holes in the leaves but the only ones getting that close to your plants should be family and friends and if they can’t accept a little imperfection in your garden, I’d suggest you get some new friends (the family you’re stuck with – deal with them by ignoring them).
Solve problems organically.
Yes, I know this means that you have to resist using that can of wonder-kill-all but given that environmentally sound techniques are equally effective (just not as heavily advertised) why would you take a chance on polluting your living space for you, your pets and your family?
And then you don’t have me, your friends, your minister and every other do-gooder on the planet harping at you to help us save a small bit of our world.
Join the revolution and use truly effective garden solving methods.
And finally on this matter, when you do switch, do not advertise.
Just start using environmentally sound techniques as if you’ve used them all your life and pretend that you’ve always been a hero of the garden.Because you are.
If I had to recommend only one product, it would be a good hose.
A good rubber hose is thick rubber and doesn’t kink. It lasts for years. I still have my commercial grade hoses and I wouldn’t trade them or give them away for anything (mind you, given that I have over four hundred feet of hoses and a twenty-foot square garden, I might be a tad over-hosed). I’d put an old-fashioned twisty water nozzle on it to control the flow or I’d learn how to do that with my thumb.
Because that jet of water is going to knock most insects off your flowering plants this summer. A strong jet of water will knock many pests off plants to the ground where beetles and other predators will eat them. A hose can also be used to spray children or good friends as long as you don’t dilute their drinks.
Sharpen your tools.
There’s a world of difference between a sharp shovel and a dull one. There’s a world of easy gardening waiting for you if you take a few minutes with a good file to put an edge on all cutting edges of your hoes, shovels, and shears.
As my father used to say, “the dull tool isn’t necessarily the tool.”
Sharpening lawn mower blades (or heaven forbid – even installing new ones) will save you ten percent on your gas bill over dull blades, will give you a healthier lawn and will make it easier on your mower engine (thus making it last longer) to do its job. A rough file is a gardener’s second best friend.
The best garden design suggestion
Ah, that’s a seat in the garden.I’ve said this more than once but I’ll repeat myself (must be getting to that certain age).
Put a seat in your garden. If you don’t, the only time you’ll go out there is to work.
If there’s a seat, you might go out and sit in it to enjoy a cool drink and actually enjoy your garden handiwork. Better yet, put two seats in your garden so you can share those moments with a good friend. The twenty-foot square garden will have four seats this year, mostly so a friend and I will have a place to put our feet while sipping a cool one in the shade and enjoying all my new plants.
And the second last bit of advice. Forgive yourself for your gardening mistakes. The great thing about gardening is that you get to start fresh every spring. So what if you made a mistake last year?
You can change the way you do things. Nobody is keeping score in the garden. Or, if they do they surely aren’t invited to mine. I make more mistakes than the average bear in mine and my only challenge is to remember them all so I don’t do them again the next year. And plants are more forgiving than people so they tell me.
I’ve saved the best February garden advice for last.
Enjoy your garden. Laugh out there even at this time of year there’s something to enjoy.
It is the best therapy for a harried and unforgiving world.
Imagine how it feels to touch the soil, fondle the living plants, smell the flowers and marvel at how you’ve brought a little nature into your world.