About the SFMGA

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ten Modest Proposals for Good Gardening

By Mary McCormick

  1. Grow food. If you don't already, consider starting small. Try a few big pots (maybe recycled plastic ones, 15-gallon or bigger). Mix greens into high-water plantings. Buy or build a hoop house for nearly year-round fresh vegetables. Get some perennial food crops started: grape vines, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, raspberry bushes, strawberries, a dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit tree or two. Plant herbs in or with your flowers or in pots. Grow sprouts on a windowsill.
  2. Mulch, Mulch again. Then, mulch again. Organic mulches retain water and also improve the soil as the materials break down. Let leaves lie on the ground over the winter, holding moisture in the soil.
  3. Water in winter. Anything panted in the last season or two needs winter water (late fall to late spring, while irrigation lines are shut down) every three weeks or so, unless snow or rain consistently falls.
  4. Organic Homemade Garden Remedies

    Garlic as a fungicide? Apple cider vinegar for leafspot, mildew and scab? Chamomile tea to prevent seedling damping off? Ground up grapefruit and lemon rind as cat and dog repellant? Check out and try all the natural, organic remedies on www.ghorganics.com

    Nourish the soil, and it will nourish the plants. There's a whole world of living creatures down there. They matter. Use organic nutrients rather than chemical applications. Apply microbial inoculants. Try alternatives to the toxins in insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides.
  5. Problem-solve. Look first at the big three: soil, sun and water. Stressed plants are more likely to attract pests.
  6. Experiment. Accept that not every plant will live. Know that not every plant will like the conditions where you put it. Understand that not every pruning job will look great when first finished.
  7. Expect changes. The variables are endless and inter-related, often in ways we don't know or wouldn't expect. One year will be different from another. Some plants will try to take over. Others will hardly hang on. Plants in rows, for instance, rarely grow with industrial regularity.
  8. Observe. Spend time in your garden, time when you're not officially gardening with a tool in your hand, time when you can just notice how all the life around you is getting along. In such quiet, you can often sense what needs doing. And then, spend a little more time in the quiet, before the doing.
  9. Don't get dismayed by what you don't know. Gardening is an exploration. Be unintimidated by the times when something doesn't work.
  10. Leave part of your property untended, wild, untrammeled. Here can be a place where plants and animals lead private lives, a place where you are not involved.

Mary McCormick Landscapes, 920-1531