Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Nature of Gardening Throughout the Year

Improbably, NDL is responsible for production of the Garden Club Annual Directory. After the meat and potatoes content of the publication is updated it is time to add a bit of fluffy filler. One year it was garden tips, another quotes, and this year... notes on gardening with nature by NDL her ownself.

You may notice that by the end of the directory year NDL was getting a bit punchy with editing fatigue, but we hope you may find at least one small uncultured pearl of wisdom here:

September - Designate an area in your yard to let milkweed and other butterfly host and food plants grow. Mark it as a butterfly friendly area so the neighbors will know you are growing “weeds” with the intention of being environmentally friendly.

OctoberAs you clean up the garden for winter, create, some natural bird feeding stations by leaving seed heads intact and encouraging small recesses for water to pool. Your fine-feathered friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

November - If you are interested in free plants don’t mulch too heavily under known reseeding perennials. Then, next spring look for volunteer seedlings to relocate or nurture in place.

December - While your memory is fresh make note of which of your plants need dividing for garden bed expansion, sharing with friends, or donating to a plant sale. If possible, before they disappear for the winter try to remember what color that iris, lily, or phlox was and write it down with a map to the plant’s location.

January - When the snow falls take a look at who is making tracks in your yard. Knowing which creatures are living in your garden and where they hide may help you to gently encourage their relocation, or continued presence in your garden habitat. 
Consider starting a nature/garden journal. Record your observations from year to year to keep track of when trees bud, birds leave and return, and when your first ripe, red tomato appears.

February - Armchair gardening has kept many a restless gardener going until she can get back in the dirt again. Get out those catalogs, books, and notes from last year’s garden efforts and start to dream and plan for this year’s garden campaign. Now is the time to review horticultural hits and misses and how to repeat or avoid them.

March -  If you are planning a vegetable garden consider planting a row to share. Programs like Grow a Row for the Hungry encourage us with helpful tips to grow extra produce to share with area food pantries or communal dining sites. Even a free basket on your curb during garden bounty time can help families add to their good nutrition efforts. Or extend this idea to growing a  row of lovely flowers for floral designs to share with friends, family, nursing homes, your church, or to grace the serving table of one of the above mentioned communal dining sites such as Agnes’ Table or the reception area of the Open Door Clinic.  Spread health and happiness, and smiles!

April - Arbor Day is a good time to hug a tree, but don’t kill it with kindness. Mulch around a tree trunk should be more like a donut that leaves the base exposed than a mulch volcano.  2 to 4” of mulch depth is enough to suppress weeds and show you care, without smothering it with love.

May - To avoid frustration protect your plants from baby bunnies who are trying out all kinds of greenery to see what is tasty. You can use this advice from February to October as rabbits have a 28 day gestation period and can produce up to seven litters per year. They are really cute, and very hungry.

June - Use your camera to help you remember good ideas from gardens you visit. Capture that lovely combo in a container planting or a particularly striking perennial pairing. Don’t forget to snap shots of your own favorite garden stars for your records.
July - If inviting friends to tour your garden it is a kindness to them and yourself to leave a few weeds, some undone deadheading, or an unfurled garden hose lying out. A garden is a dynamic work in progress, not a completed masterpiece. Everyone enjoys seeing other gardeners’ spaces, and no one expects perfection.

August - Invasives are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. Most were transplanted because of their beauty in the garden and only later discovered to be a danger to our native habitat. Weeding out invasives from our gardens and project areas calls for a “tough love” approach.

Photos from a 2010 Garden Club field trip.

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