Hello Old Friends.
It’s been an awful long while! To be totally honest with you, this growing season I’ve found the garden to be an absolute albatross. This has been a real struggle for me- as one can imagine- the garden has historically been a place of calmness, joy, and a way to relieve stress. Rather, this year has been the complete opposite. The garden itself has felt like a burden, a stressor, and (aside from being a lovely thing to view) a source of frustration and exasperation- and having the thing you love be a source of stress is just another log on the proverbial fire.
I suspect this has much to do with the lingering toll of working in healthcare during a pandemic on top of all the other struggles that we all faced just enduring and surviving said pandemic. I’d be lying if I said this past 18 months hasn’t been some of the most mentally and emotionally draining of my life- but I’m certainly not alone in this.
Aside from the wildlife pond, which continues to be a source of immense joy, interest, and the one part of the garden I’ve still found endlessly engaging, the rest of the garden has been, at best, ignored. At worst? It’s been completely neglected. Another source of stress! Ha!
It does feel as if I am turning a corner, though certainly things don’t feel “normal” yet. I’m finding myself back in the garden owning up to the vast consequences of my inaction.
Y’all. The weeds!!!
But what this extended break (read: neglect) has given me is a bit of clarity as I get myself reacquainted with our garden. There are choices I’ve made in this garden that are, frankly, ones I’d never make again. Choices that work aesthetically but not practically. Things that I thought would add value but have only added work, rework, and frustration. It is time to change that. Its time to make the garden work for me and with me, not against me.
Alright, time to get down to brass tacks: What does this mean?
It means gravel paths have to go. Not all of them, but certainly the ones in the vegetable garden and around the greenhouse. Maybe more as we go. The weeds are just too much, too hard to keep up with, and too high maintenance. We’ll be transitioning these to (as of now) wood mulched paths which means we’ve got to weed what we have, get some cardboard down, and heap on the mulch. This should make them lower-maintenance and allow the weeding focus in there to be on the beds rather than the paths. Will it be as aesthetically pleasing as the gravel paths? No, but will it make life easier for me? Yes, and that’s worth it.
It means the Potager is dead. This is a space where literally nothing I’ve wanted to work has. Its endless planning and re-planning and failed efforts. My plan is to put in some perennial fruiting shrubs or grape vines, mulch it and call it done. I want it to be productive, but I also don’t want to fight it or the bunnies every year.
It means the nursery bed is gone. Or at the very least it will shrink to a quarter or less of its current size. This has been quite useful so I can’t bring myself to get rid of it completely, but its current massive size means it is more often a weed magnet and its just ONE MORE THING to manage. Its going to have to shrink to be easier to manage while still being a useful place to put plants in a holding pattern.
This feels like a good place to start, for now. They are tangible tasks that, while they are more work in the short run, will mean less work in the long run and less stress, less things on the To Do list, and less chance for the garden to become an albatross again…