The other day, a gardener for whom I have a great deal of respect, asked me a technical question about how I managed my nutrient ratios in my compost. I responded with a blank (and probably unattractive) stare before shrugging and saying, “I don’t.” In truth, I do, but only in a vague sort of way. Compost is a subject which can get horribly complicated if you let it, but all that complication and micromanaging only provides minor improvements. I’m lazy… I just make a pile of stuff and eventually it becomes compost. Are the nutrient ratios as perfect as they can be? Nope.
It’s not just about being lazy, it’s about not introducing unnecessary complications and extra work and costs for yourself in exchange for what are minor benefits. The hard part is figuring out what is truly important in your garden, and what is just so much busy work. In my garden, I take a daily stroll through the garden, usually in the early morning, sometimes with coffee in hand, checking for trouble. Gloves, basket and tiny clippers are close at hand.
- Pull noxious weeds getting started
- Check for signs of damage to the rabbit fence
- Squish squash bug eggs
- Check for increase in slug/snail damage
- Check for plant diseases getting started
- Seedlings too close together
- Tomatoes needing pruning
- Produce needing harvesting
- Annual weeds. Just nab them before they start to bloom.
- A few aphids, snails or other pests which are annoying but not really a problem in small numbers
- The occasional dead leaf or stem. Damage happens and plants replace their leaves periodically.
A daily garden check may not seem “lazy,” but the reality is that 15 minutes in the garden each day is worth about 5 hours of work saved up for the weekend, and it’s a lot more pleasant, especially when it’s as hot and humid as our summers are. Besides, a damaged fence (rare) on Monday may mean total crop destruction by Saturday when you have as many wild rabbits as I do.
If you have a remote garden, like a plot in a community garden, a daily check may not be possible, but do try to get out there at least a couple of days a week to harvest produce and check for signs of trouble, even if you don’t have time to make it a regular work day. Or buddy up with another gardener with a different schedule, and check on each others’ plots.
Being proactive about creating a healthy soil ecology and preventing the introduction or establishment of pests, weeds and disease is important, and worth not being lazy for. Worrying about precise spacing and even rows planting your carrot seeds and every tiny weed? Don’t drive yourself crazy micromanaging this kind of stuff.
(By Nicole Castle)