Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lupus Gimp, How Does Your Garden Grow

With gardening ProTips!

Whether it is in a small pot on a table, or in the section of yard I have claimed for my garden, the smell of freshly turned earth turns me on – not in a horny way, but in a “this is really real life” special kind of way. It helps me feel productive and connected.

I call it my garden because it is my idea, and I am the one that insists on having it. Everyone in the household sees the benefit of it. Everyone in the house contributes effort to it, either because they want to, because I ask them to, or because it increases their allowance. It really is our family garden.

I am not able to do a lot of the physical work of maintaining the garden. My men folk did most of the tilling (I could barely start the damn thing, let alone hold it while running). I did the actual planting, since I knew how to do it – and I would not be mad at anyone else if the planting went bad. The girls prepped the ground for and planted the marigolds around the outside of the garden fence.

Getting out in the garden is trouble to begin with, precautions have to be taken. Bug bites hang out for months on me, so bug spray. The sun is trying to kill me; so long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a hat are mandatory. Sunscreen is just as necessary. I have one of those fatigue-fighting floor mats to use to get down on the ground so I do not waste energy bending or squatting. I can cut this mat to fit rather than trying to squeeze myself onto one of those narrow knee pad panels. I try to do most of the work early in the morning or in the last light of the day to cut down on heat and humidity exposure.

The work has to be broken up into small, 15- 20 minute blocks, or I run myself into the ground far too early. I can only do a few of these before I either need a large break of a few hours, or I may just be done for the day, anyway. I can go for a bit longer if I know that no demands will be made on me later –either physical or mental, because the fatigue shuts down all systems.

Even when I remember to do all of the above – take these precautions and more, there is still a price to pay. For even two to three hours working, I will pay for it by being near useless for up to a week. It is unpredictable. I can influence the odds, but not the roll (I hope that analogy makes sense). I know I will be down a day or two, minimum. Down meaning down to minimum activity: hygiene, dressing, feeding myself, maybe some mindless web browsing. Trashed is also always a possibility: easy clothes if not sleeping clothes, easy food, moving only when I have to do so, asking other people to get things for me, doing nothing I may need to remember later or have any competency during. My right hand will always be near useless for 3-7 days.

Over the years, we have acquired, piece by piece, good tools. Good tools cut down on body wear and tear. Believe it or not, I used to break the garden ground with a shovel – I had the strength and enthusiasm, and we did not have a tiller. Now we have a tiller. Good gloves keep my hands from getting beat up too much too fast. Decent hand tools with soft grips have done wonders.

D has laid ground cloth this year, which is awesome. It removes about 80 % of the weeding I would otherwise need to figure out. Anyone can weed around the larger plants, but until they get big and obvious, I will need to weed around the romaine and spinach. I will also have to do the thinning. Both my guys are happy to water the garden for me.

We are growing tomatoes, squash (straight, crook-neck, and one spaghetti squash) and zucchini (same type of plant), one green pepper plant, spinach, a romaine lettuce blend, cucumbers, and some small onions. Marigolds are planted around the garden fence in order to improve the view and discourage pests. In pots we have strawberry plants, chives, mint (may have drown in the last rain), and oregano. I planted rhubarb and asparagus in the garden but I do not think they will make it (I should have researched first, instead of going on the package!). If they sprout I will need to transplant them to large pots until I find a good, permanent home.

In short:
  • I love gardening.
  • Fair division of labor according to knowledge and ability is essential.
  • Taking care of myself means I get more done.
  • Trust that once you delegate, problems will come to you – do not hover!
  • Working smarter is so much better than working harder.
  • Good tools mean less work, less wear and tear on the people doing the work.
  • Yum!
Do you have any gardening tips? Leave them below!