June 7th, 2011

Ambitions vs. Reality

dougThis time of year, gardeners are pulled in all directions by ambitious planting projects, fast-growing weeds, and endless to-do lists. It’s a busy season in the garden. There’s never enough time, and a large garden can quickly veer out of control. Suddenly the perennials that should have been staked are lying flat on the ground, the bed that needed mulch a month ago is a weedy mess, and the market packs of tomatoes and basil that never made it into the ground are dead.

The problem is usually an issue of scale and not of the gardener’s abilities or determination. In spring, when enthusiasm levels peak, we take on more garden than we can reasonably maintain through the growing season. I’m as guilty of this as the next gardener. After a long winter indoors, I’m ready to plant the world. Reality kicks in by Memorial Day.

I will always want a bigger garden than I have time to care for. For me, a sensible solution to that dilemma is to limit my access to land. My yard in Emmaus is about one-third acre—a modest size I can keep up with. Any more and the garden would escape from my control, going wild around the edges.  —Doug Hall

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    We have the same problem, with half an acre. We are continually digging more garden space, when our grass dies in spots. (No climate warming, right? How about today? And the last 5 summers?). Our philosophy is: we’re 50% closer to a garden area that we can eat from or cut. Yes, the daily maintenance is tough, but as long as we can mulch, weed and plant, we’ll be very happy campers!

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