Choose Your Gardening Battles Wisely
By LMG Calla Victoria
Get a game plan
There are so many things to be done in the garden all of the time, so have a game plan so that you can maximize your productivity. There are always weeds to be pulled so check the weather report, if there is rain in the forecast in a day or so, wait until then to pull those weeds. After a good soaking rain is the best time to yank some weeds because the ground is softened from being saturated by rain and those stubborn weeds will slide right out of the ground with little or no effort.
I love angel's trumpet trees, as you can see from the photo of my garden above. All of those beautiful blooms are fabulous, but when the blooms fade they turn brown and ugly and have to be removed. If there is a good rain coming, I will wait for the rain. A good strong wind and a hard rain will knock those dead blooms right off the tree and all I have to do is sweep them up.
Run from the sun
If you are lucky enough to have a large yard with both sunny and shade areas, work against the sun. As my home faces east, I get a lot of sun in my front garden in the mornings; therefore I work in my backyard during the morning hours in the summer. If I get a little over heated in the summertime I will move to one of the shady parts of my garden and relax and maybe pot some plants as I cool off. After 2 p.m. when the sun is high in the sky and moving to the west, which is the way my backyard faces, I move my gardening activities to my front yard which is somewhat shady by the afternoon. Of course the opposite is true when the temperatures cool off during the fall and winter. Then I work in the front garden in the mornings as it is warm and toasty there, and I work in the back yard in the afternoon when it’s nice and warm and sunny out there.
Know your gardening directions
I know this is hard coming from a place like New Orleans where we say uptown, downtown, frontatown and backatown. But it is easy to figure out which way is east and and which way is west. In the morning when you get up, figure out which direction the brightest sunshine is coming from, then that would be east as we all know the sun rises in the east. Around 3 p.m. go out into your yard and see where the brightest glare is coming from the sun and that would be west, as the sun sets in the west. It is important to know geographical directions when gardening, and to know what kind of sun exposure each direction provides. For example, if the care tag on a plant states indirect sunlight then you would not want to place that plant facing the south, as the southern exposure provides the longest sun exposure. And that is why the optimum direction for solar panels to face is south for the maximum sun exposure on the panels. Once you have plotted out the geographical directions in your garden you can use some creative ways to mark the areas. A friend of mine placed a colorful stepping stone in each direction and had the letter stenciled on each stone. A giant "W" for west, and a giant "E" for east, etc.
Take small bites
Maintaining a large garden can be overwhelming, so nibble off small sections and complete those small tasks. Make a list of everything that needs to be done and then assign a day or time for those small specific tasks. As you complete each task you will have a since of accomplishment and before you know all of the work is done. Also get a routine for ongoing chores like spraying your garden for pests. Pick a date monthly to do those chores, log them on your e-calendar with alerts so that you can stay on schedule.
Work smart not hard
Work smart when completing gardening chores. As I now have the pavers needed to complete my walkways through my garden, I have to dig down and remove some soil so that the pavers will sit flush. So as I am digging out the area, I am placing that dirt in flower pots as I go. That way I have ample dirt for potting (already in pots), and all I have to do is amend that soil with some compost and organic matter. Unlike some gardeners, I garden old school so I do prefer to use dirt as opposed to all of the different potting mixes. After all, plants did grow happily in the dirt/soil before we smart humans got involved.
Allow your other garden workers to work
Sometimes while I am working in an area of my garden, there are many busy bees there too. In that case I just move on to another area of my garden and let the bees work their magic! Bees have the important role of pollenating in our gardens, so if you are lucky enough to have some bees in your garden, let them work! Many species of honey bees are in danger of extinction. So if you have some bees, like I have hundreds of them buzzing around all of my beautiful angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia suaveolens) trees featured in the image above; and all of my other blossoms, leave them to their work.
Remember, never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!