After an amazingly extended warm period, we finally got the cold temperatures that are expected during the holidays. By now, I hope all gardens have been put to bed, and gardeners take ample time to reflect upon the past year.
As an organic gardener, I have many memories of the year's growing season: the extremes of temperature, the ice storm, the drought, the survival (or demise) of plants, shrubs and trees. All brought lessons with them.
It may seem a distant memory, but spring 2007 was challenging. March suffered a deep freeze on the 4th and then a devastating ice storm on the 13th. Surviving that challenge, plants faced an early warming trend - unseasonably warm. Then, in early April, we had a deep, extended freeze.
It occurs to me, on this hot July afternoon, that after all of the columns I have written for this good paper, I have never really clarified what organic gardening is.
Granted, I may be trying to close the barn door after the horses have escaped, but this is a topic I am still learning about every day. So allow me to explain the different approaches, and perhaps this will clarify why I am so passionate about this method of gardening.
To start, we should probably have a working definition of what organic gardening means. Throughout my research, I have found some of the best information to come from various Web sites.
With summer just days away, it seems we are in for a warm, dry season. By now most of you have planted your containers and gardens and are well into care and maintenance mode.
That being said, an important element in nurturing your gardens is feeding or fertilization. Allow me to make a case for considering organic methods before you rush out to purchase a man-made chemical product.
I have read countless articles, garden blogs and books on this particular topic. There are strong feelings on both sides of the fence. Admittedly, the synthetic varieties have an immediate impact on plants and are readily available. Organic solutions can take more work and are sometimes more difficult to find.
The question still boils down to which is more sustainable for our planet. But then I am getting ahead of myself. Let me first give you some basics in fertilizers.
Controlled chaos is the expression I would use to describe the atmosphere at the local nurseries this past Mother's Day. Experienced and inexperienced gardeners alike marched enthusiastically to their cars with plants in hand, with visions of gardens worthy of magazine covers in their minds.
Now I would never want to discourage such optimism. I am happy to say I have witnessed a decided increase in the number of gardeners in Bloomington over the last 20 years. There are, however, some recurring habits that certain people exhibit each spring that set my teeth on edge.
Rather than emphasizing the negative, I thought I might share some of these pet peeves of mine so readers can avoid mishaps and be more successful in the garden this year.
As usual, Mother Nature has thrown us a curve ball with an early spring freeze. If there is one thing you can count on in Indiana, it’s crazy weather!
Hopefully most of you resisted purchasing the “sacrificial plants” at the nurseries when the conditions were warm a few weeks ago. Despite recent climate changes, the old axiom of waiting until just before Mother’s Day to plant your annuals and perennials is still a wise idea.
In my last article, I promised a continuation of how we, as individuals, can positively impact the environment by reducing pesticide usage. I hope the following will encourage you to think twice about using chemicals in the garden, and instead negotiate a truce with Mother Nature.
When encountering an anomaly in the garden, this is the first and most important step.
I know that we have been taught to act quickly when we see a pest on our plants. “Spray away and your problems will be eliminated.”