Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Consider the humble aluminum can. We don't think much about it. We drink the contents therein and then we either trash it or recycle it and then we forget about it. But the aluminum can is a wonder of modern engineering worthy of a second look. Every aspect of it was designed; more aluminum and you are wasting material; less aluminum and the pressurized contents will end up all over you pretty new shirt. The tab is made just tight enough to keep things in but loose enough to allow even the most delicate fingers to remove it. Then we make millions of exact copies, each performing at the same high level. Yep, pretty amazing.

Is your gardening a high precision enterprise? Do you know the exact chemical composition of your soil? Is your compost controlled to such a degree that you could patent it? Is your knowledge of your plants so deep that you could earn a Botany degree? Are you so tuned to the weather that they call you from the local tv station for the daily forecast?

My sophistication level in the garden rises a little every growing season but I am far from being the guy that understands how fertilizer travels down the soil seeking its point of optimum equilibrium, or any such thing.

Don't get me wrong. I would love to be a Master Gardener and possess such esoteric knowledge (In the age of Wikipedia, is there such a thing as esoteric knowledge anymore?).
But even at my mediocre level of gardening proficiency, I miss the early days. I miss those times when I just naively put seeds in peat pods, left them to get leggy and weak and then transplanted them into the first open spot in the yard. Sure I lost a lot of plants but I also got tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.

All the same, last year I bought a Ph test kit so I could optimize the soil for Blueberries, and a soil thermometer that in no small part, allowed for record germination rates this year. Will I ever become a Master Gardener? Will my gardening ever reach Aluminum-can like precission? Probably not but I doubt my joy for it will diminish no matter what.

How does YOUR garden grow?


  1. David, I've found that a lot of the tools that are supposed to make things more accurate do exactly the opposite, and may be misleading.

    What I keep falling back on are the things that my great-grandmother taught my mother. Care for the soil, and it will care for your plants. Allow space for mistakes. Even if you end up with extra, you can always find something to do with it. Plant some flowers with the garden so that you attract good bugs. Great-Grandma Hrica was way ahead of her time, and her wise knowledge has served my family well for the past hundred years.

  2. Very true! My mother has commented once or twice on all the money I spend to grow plants. She out grows me every year but to her the garden is more than a hobby, is a tradition.
    I hope I make gardening a tradition as well. So far, I am the only one who gardens consistently (besides my mom) in a family of 8 siblings.
    I am glad that your grandmother passed the passion for growing things on to you.
    I read your posts on the pH tests. I bought one of those kits last year when I was planting my Blueberries but I never used it. Now I am glad I did not waste my time.