My father loved gardening. I was not impressed as I was used as weed puller and little else. He was practicing a growing older gardening trick.
I have come to enjoy gardening. As I grow older, I am coming to appreciate such tricks.
Growing Older Gardening Trick 1
Younger gardeners seem to think the entire garden needs to be done in one or a few days. They take that big tiller out and plow up the whole garden. They follow this with raking, setting out rows, setting out seeds and plants, watering and collapse in the evening with aching muscles.
My garden is divided up into pieces, mostly four by ten. I work up one section each day. This takes a couple of hours. Then I wander off to do something else like take a walk or read a book.
Oh, yes, about that tiller: Sell it.
Small spaces don’t need the use of a tiller. Rich garden dirt containing plenty of compost does not need a tiller. A potato fork works fine.
Growing Older Gardening Trick 2
My father used children to pull his weeds. That works fine, if you have children wanting to earn a little money.
Some gardeners use herbicides. These are not necessary.
Mulch is the secret. My garden sections are normally mulched fall and spring with extra as needed.
This is not wood chips, plastic or other commercial mulch. My goats supply plenty of bedding (Do note that even expensive alfalfa hay becomes bedding as soon as it touches the ground in the opinion of goats. And goats do drop lots of hay on the floor.) However commercial straw or free leaves work well.
Leaves do have problems as they blow easily. One solution is to put down the leaf layer and cover with a thin layer of dirt or straw. Another is to run the mower over the leaves and chop them into small pieces, but they need replenishing sooner that way.
Mulch does have drawbacks. Bugs like mulch. Some plants don’t do well if mulch is too close, think lettuces.
Some weeds will grow up through mulch. Locust trees and morning glories are my main culprits. Most will not.
Growing Older Gardening Trick 3
Raised beds and containers are very helpful when large scale gardening, even in sections, becomes difficult. They are nice any time.
I love raising colored bell peppers. I also like sweet Macedonian peppers. The bells go in the garden proper. The others grow in large containers around the house. This way I can save seeds. This would work for sweet and hot peppers.
Raised beds can extend the gardening season. Access is needed from all sides to put everything within reach.
Growing Older Gardening Trick 4
This is the hardest trick to do. It means putting aside a love of gardening and looking honestly at how much you are growing. Crops that take lots of work or you no longer use need to be discontinued. Cut back on how many plants you are tending as older people need to eat less.
Growing older is not an excuse to stop gardening. It is a reason to change how gardening is done.
Gardening is creeping into the Hazel Whitmore series. Mother and Grandfather are competing in the County Fair with their tomatoes. Check out “Mistaken Promises.”