Gardening

Frustration is running high these days. It might be the long, dark, wet PNW winter, but I feel like I’m struggling with a sense of self and purpose. (Or it might, you know, be the whole writing career still being a non-starter, but no one here wants to hear about that, least of all me). Kiddo is in school all day most days, so what do I do with myself?

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Sparks, meanwhile, is worried about pruning things. Spring here comes like a beast let out of a cage. Everyone needs allergy medicine, and the plants–which never go dormant because the winters are so mild, you understand–jump into bloom and bud and stretch out their ever-lengthening tendrils with alarming speed. On our property we have a forest of Scotch broom that needs to be cut down, stands of crack willow that need to be managed before they, well, crack, blackberry patches that are very much appreciated but which need to be managed on a Feed Me, Seymour level, and an apple tree that was badly in need of attention.

So. Chainsaw, pole pruner, pruning saw, machete, bill hook…whatever it takes. And Sparks wanted guidance on what to do with that poor apple tree, because we love it and it treated us well last year, so we want to take care of it.

He began to watch Gardener’s World on YouTube for advice.

He liked it. He told me about it. He dialed up an episode for our evening TV viewing one evening.

And that, boys and girls, was how it began.

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We’re now watching it every night–and coming perilously close to running out of episodes, because only 2015 and 2016 are on YouTube–and I fancy myself an adventurous gardener. We’ve bought a little plastic-covered greenhouse and some fleece tunnels, set up a potting bench beside the barn, and away I go.

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Can I talk about Monty Don for a minute? Let me talk about Monty Don for a minute. He’s the host of Gardener’s World, and besides being a total badass in the garden, he tells you how to do things on the cheap. I absolutely love how he tells you where and how to economize at every opportunity. “Dig a trench and fill the bottom with as much sharp sand and horticultural grit as you can afford…” “I’m cushioning this pond liner with some bits of leftover carpet padding and an old blanket…” “Bare root plants are just as good, and much cheaper…” “Now is the time to take cuttings of XYZ, so you have free plants next year.”

And so I put in an order for seeds for a lot of perennial flowers that I would usually buy as potted plants. $25, and if they grow, it’ll be $700-$800 worth of plants. Where plants tempt me in the garden center, I am buying one and taking cuttings. Besides trays of seedlings, the greenhouse is full of pots with twigs of rosemary, lavender, sage, and roses sticking out of them. And bare root plants! I’ve always bought bare root plants, stuck them in the garden, and never seen them again. This year I have put them in pots in the greenhouse, and while the dahlias and bleeding heart are still AWOL, the hostas and peonies are coming up. SO MUCH CHEAPER THAN BUYING POTTED PLANTS!!!

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Anyway, I’m keeping myself busy while I wait for the weather to warm up. Frost-free date here is April 15. I’m stoked.

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