When I first started gardening, I was OBSESSIVE about being out there every.single.day, rain or shine, winter, spring, summer, and fall.
I checked every plant, monitored every leaf and bud, counted and marked every seed I planted. I watered daily- some plants just a few drops, some a light mist, others a little more. I repotted constantly- if there was any sign that any of the soil was *too* wet or the plant wasn’t doing well, I’d immediately lug it over to the potting area and transfer it.
I was constantly changing out the entire layout of my garden- one great thing about a container garden is that you can pick up and move entire plantings and change the whole look and feel of the garden in just about an hour.
When there was no gardening to do, I’d sweep. Every grain of soil, every tiny bit of leaf, every bit of sand. I picked up the pots and swept under them. It was immaculate out there.
And I’d always have a list of “garden to-dos” that I could recite, a list of plants I wanted desperately, a list of things I should pick up from the nursery, a list of seeds that needed to be planted. If there was nothing going on, I FOUND something to do. Transplanting plants, filling a new planter with soil and throwing in some seeds, organizing the potting area. Making plans.
One thing I have been noticing lately is that I’ve been “settling in” more with my garden. Don’t get me wrong- my interest in gardening hasn’t wained a single bit, but my obsessive nature about gardening has. And it’s kind of a great thing. I spend less time gardening and more time *appreciating* the garden.
I’m out there pretty much every day, but it’s more out of required care and interest than the obsessive need to keep track of everything. It might be that I have way too many plants to be obsessive about, or it may be that I’m getting wiser about the facts that most plants tend to do better when they are left to do their own thing (with, of course, the proper amount of sun, water, and fertilizer).
Last year and the year before I was buying seeds constantly. If I saw a plant I wanted to try, I ordered seeds for it. But now I have a lot of established plants in my garden so I rarely order or buy seeds. I find a lot of plants I’d *like* to try, but I’m actually at a point where I’m satisfied with what I have growing and want to keep putting my focus on those plants.
Another good thing about this is that I am now finding myself more surprised by the garden than ever before. The other day, Tom found a CUCUMBER, fully grown and beautiful, hiding behind the railing on the side of the house. I had long given up on the cucumber plant, but for some reason I decided to let it be until I needed the planter space.
When Tom started referring to the cucumber I dismissed it as him talking about the tiny little cucumber-esque thing that appears after the bloom on a cucumber plant fades. If the blossom isn’t pollinated, the little cucumber falls off the plant along with it. I really thought he had seen one of those and assumed it was a pollinated cucumber blossom. But no- it was a fully grown cucumber, happily hanging off the sad cucumber vine that sneaked behind the rail of the stairs. If I had been in obsessive gardening mode, I would have seen that cucumber growing- actually, I probably would have yanked out the plant long ago because it looked pretty done, so there would have been no cucumber at all.
And then there was the pot of sunflower seeds I forgot I planted. White sunflowers- they popped up behind the eggplants. That was a very cool surprise!
Or the little shoots of plants that will sometimes pop up in other containers than the ones they originated in- sometimes across the garden from the “parent” plant. And in a different color. Instead of pulling them like I would have done, taking a day or two off from peering into every planter and pot gives the opportunity for those to shoot up.
In some ways, I miss the obsessive gardening. It was something that I actually *enjoyed* obsessing about. But on the other hand, I love the relaxed nature of it now. I feel like I can relax about things. That if I have to skip a day and I just DON’T have time to go and peek on what’s going on, my entire garden isn’t going to perish or disappear.
There’s more to see and do when gardening becomes relaxed. Flowers and growth becomes a nice treat rather than an expected and measured result of careful planning and observation. When I’m not shifting the containers every day, the garden takes on its own dimensions, the plants in the back growing taller and bushier than the ones in front to reach the sun. When I’m not trimming and pruning every day, the garden actually LOOKS like a garden instead of a bunch of manicured plants in containers. When I’m not sweeping away the dirt, more lizards and spiders come to take residence.
It’s funny that you get more out of a garden by doing a little less gardening, but I guess that’s how life works.