What’s in a hobby? Why do we choose to spend our time doing the things we do? Maybe you crochet or knit. Perhaps you love to spend a rainy afternoon baking or writing long letters. Maybe your thing is athletics? A nice long run or bike ride.
Whatever hobby you choose, you have to love it to spend the amount of time on it that you do.
That’s what gardening is like for me.
Now, I grew up in a gardening family. My grandfather was a gardener and so was his daughter, my mother. But, I had no interest..that is, until I got my first apartment with my husband. I immediately starting gardening in pots on our second floor balcony.
I have driven by the 3-family house since then, and the balcony is gone. (Maybe I watered too much?)
When we bought our house in 2001, one of the selling points was a huge yard. No more pots.
Fast forward, I have been gardening in that same space for seventeen years and the garden I have today is NOTHING like the garden I started out with.
1. The soil has changed
First of all, new soil is untouched soil. When we began, we found rocks, but as time has gone on and the dirt has been added to, manipulated and re-arranged, I no longer find rocks. I have reached depths in the soil where I see different colors of decomposition, I have added bags and bags of cow manure, and I have dug and then re-dug. Now, when I prep the garden for the yearly plant, it’s pretty easy to move the soil and pretty easy to pull weeds as well.
2. The garden space is PACKED.
I have over-done it. I always pack too much stuff into my little space. I forget how much room a cabbage takes up! When I first began, I tilled 3 neat rows. I also have mature perennials like Egyptian onions, mint, Jerusalem Artichokes, raspberries, and milkweed now that come back every year and if I am not careful, choke out my productive space for food plants.
3. The bugs have changed.
When we first started I had very few bugs and more critters (rabbits, moles, voles, even deer!). We put up a fence and buried it 6 inches into the ground and that seems to have prevented little nibblers from approaching for about 12 years now. Now, I get your typical insects like cabbage worm, aphids, white flies, snails (a wet year) and Japanese Beetles.
Therefore, I have needed to educate myself on how to manage these pests and get rid of them when necessary.
I also have many beneficial bugs in my garden like long-legged flies, multiple pollinators, and Ladybird beetles.
4. The tree line has changed.
There is a tree I depend on to give my garden some shade. My garden in right in the middle of the yard. But it is in decline. Many of its branches are breaking off and it will not be long before I have to cut it down.
I have also added trees that will eventually bring some shade to the garden such as a peach tree, fringe tree, and a Rose of Sharon.
And most importantly…
5. I have changed.
In the last 17 years I have learned through mistakes. And that is THE main advice I give friends when they are asking me for gardening advice. Learn from your mistakes and don’t give up!
I have used products I wished I hadn’t, I have seen plants look like they are flourishing only to die overnight, I have had summers (while pregnant or with a new-born) where I let the weeds win, and I have allowed plants to succumb to pests through neglect.
I just keep learning.
Here’s to another 17!