Gardening, is it relaxation or just a battle?

The Light circa 2004

Well it has been raining for several days now and I like most of you I would like to get this year’s vegetable garden planted. I have been sitting in my chair drinking coffee and watching the finches at the feeder for over a week now. My raised beds in the garden resemble a project sponsored by Ducks Unlimited. My ducks usually on the pond are frolicking in puddles so large that I could launch my boat without leaving my property. But all of this will soon end and before you know it we will be dining on fresh spinach and arugula mix.

The rain continues, five days in a row now. If I can’t get on the land then I will go to the Farmer’s Market and Jack will give the 7 day forecast. I went to the Market and Jack told me more rain is expected, as usual he offer other advice on a multitude of subjects. Now is the time to read the monthly gardening magazines that for the most part I have ignored since last summer.

Recently I came across the humorous garden stories of Alan Ilagan . Gardener by day and writer on raining days Allan Ilagan thoughts on gardening are much like mine.

According to Ilagan a good gardener cannot afford to be timid . As keepers of the salad bowl we will not hesitate to sever unruly root-balls, callously part parent plant from offspring, and mercilessly behead baby seedlings where we have planted too many.

No matter what the plant , if it pops up in the wrong place at the wrong time it is a weed and it gets an immediate exit from the garden. This is not a pretty dismissal, the soon to become compost material is unceremoniously yanked from its moist spring bed. But we are not simply savages blindly committing these organic atrocities. No we gardeners on a mission working in the name of better garden management.

It looks like the rain will stop, Jack was wrong again. Later on when the sun warms up the wet ground the plants will prosper. I am looking forward to when are our friends who don’t garden, meander along our garden paths. It is a treat they discover the results of our hard labors. Unfortunately they will be ignorant of the bloody battles that proceeded salad on the table.

Our urban guests, some with cucumber sandwiches and chardonnay in hand will see the simple superficial prettiness but not the deep rich beauty that only the toiling, sweating, bug-beating, back-breaking work can produce.

When the non gardener is at home doing the crossword puzzle, you and I are winning the hard fought battle. This is a victory over slugs, beetles, ants, thrips, earwigs, aphids, chinch bugs, eel worms, caterpillars, nematodes. borers, maggots, weevils and my favorite, the potato bug.. This is something that the non gardener can never appreciate. When commenting on the shear majesty of the delphiniums do they see the endless eradication of weeds that we must carry out daily. When I serve new potatoes to my friends are they aware that potato bugs meet their maker by 6 am every day as we pinch them until our finger nails turn a funny off yellow red. No they are not supposed to see such things, these are pleasures only to be savored by we the chosen.

We who appreciate the garden as an ever-evolving state of food and flower forget our never-ending toil, the brutality of keeping unbridled weeds in check and declaring genocide on the pest intruders. This is not a pretty process, but the end results are that we sit on the deck when the rains cease and munch on veggies that even Pete Luckett would praise. We the gardeners of The North Shore are convinced that the battle has been won but more importantly it was worth the effort.


Quietly Retired on Waugh’s River

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