Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14, 2009

Ok, by popular demand, here's the article that I would have liked 80,000 gardeners see before summer hit.  Unfortunately it was totally my fault that I didn't get the article in the newsletter. I misread the contribution email. I thought the deadline was anytime Saturday, not Saturday morning... I emailed around 5 pacific time, likely after the newsletter had been laid out.  Ah well. It's timely so here it goes.

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!


  1. I think that is my number one love for SFG: it is flexible. I never know when I might have a few extra relatives or kids. I find it endlessly awesome to have the garden waiting for me. I found a new thing I'm looking at. I'm contemplating making brick walkways about the boxes with composite bricks. Have you heard anything about them? Do you know anyone who has used them? (http://www.customexteriorsllc.com. )

  2. Great article Rich!

    Just reading it made me think back to my first row garden that we planted when we moved into our house. Needless to say, by the end of June, I had had enough of hoeing and weeding! LOL The garden went to pot...

    Now, with the raised beds, it is just so much easier! Just the occasional weed here and there (which the chickens love LOL) But it's just the amount of time that I get to spend in the garden enjoying it, and not "working" it. Makes all the difference.