Gardens are Forgiving
Every summer, it seems weekend calendars fill up with barbeques, games and parties. Then there’s the weeklong vacations, or maybe “staycations” this year, that we all promise our families. Throw that in with ever increasing work demands, and gardens take a back seat pretty quick during the heat of the summer when the garden needs vigilant attention. Nature doesn’t take vacations and doesn’t go out of town. So what do you do if you have to be away from your garden for an extended period of time?
I had that very problem recently with a family project that took up nearly every waking hour that I wasn’t at work, and when I wasn’t otherwise busy, I was too tired to garden, even though gardening is my relaxing stress reliever. In addition, I was eating out constantly so my garden didn’t even get harvested. Thank goodness I use raised beds that take so little time and effort to tend. Traditional row gardening would have gone to weeds in no-time.
The good news is that most vegetables will remain harvestable for several days beyond their peak maturity when left on the vine, giving a lot of leeway for busy summers. So don’t be so quick to harvest before you go away for the weekend. Notable exceptions would include cucumbers, squash and corn, which need to be harvested before or at their peak. So if possible, a quick 10 minute walk through the garden every day or two to water and check for must-harvest produce is key if at all possible. There’s nothing like fresh peas or a carrot straight from the garden on a daily tour. If you cannot eat the produce yourself, giving it to a neighbor might just convince them to dig up their yard. And if you just can’t get out due to vacations, hiring a neighbor teen to water for you not only gets much needed attention for your garden, but teaches something about gardening to the youth of America. That’s something worth more than any annual harvest if you create another gardener.
I just finished that two week stint where it was all I could do to keep up with watering the garden. I couldn’t harvest more than a pea or carrot to munch on while I watered. If it wasn’t for my kids harvesting carrots left and right, next to nothing would have been eaten. I must say however, that just those ten minutes in the morning or after dark kept on top of my raised bed garden, and kept me going throughout that stressful time.
So, gardens don’t need people so much as they need sun, water, nutrients and time to grow and mature. And with our busy lifestyles, we don’t always have time to devote to our gardens. Even with our hectic lives this summer, the best way to relax is to spend just 10 minutes in the garden every few days to keep us sane and is sometimes all a garden needs to thrive.
Enjoy your garden!