The Reluctant Gardener

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For many years, I typed Anna Ribbeck’s gardening articles. I never dreamed I would become the one to write them! Unlike my mom and her mom and her grandmother, loving the garden didn’t come naturally for me. I am the “reluctant gardener.”

My appreciation of nature has come slowly and scientifically. Germinating seeds is a science project—right? Planting anything and waiting for it to grow was torture. I wanted overnight results. Weeding a garden? Pointless! All the weeds will be back in a few days! Why did the ugly weeds seem to grow 10 times faster than the pretty little flowers we just planted? For years, this was my way of thinking and I’ll bet many of you share these same feelings.
For that reason, let’s pull on our oversized gardening boots and start down the garden path together. Send me your questions, concerns, comments or gardening tips at the e-mail below and we will try to find the peace, beauty, comfort and know-how my mom, The Plant Doctor, always enjoyed in her own backyard. Being at her side helped me fill my oversized boots with years of hands on experience. The boots still feel a little big so I know there is still a lot to learn! It is great to realize that we live in a community with so many Master Gardeners who are willing to share their wonderful knowledge.
With fall in the air, it is time to get busy preparing for winter. Gardens need to be aerated and topped off with a fresh topping of mulch. Pine needles work well in our area and so do the leaves you are now beginning to rake. Keep in mind, leaves need to be removed in the spring and replaced with a fresh coat of topsoil. Tender tropicals need to be repotted, cleaned and transported inside or to protected areas near the house. The first freeze will take them out if you don’t ready a safe spot
for them.
Freshen up your porches and patio areas with potted mums. These plants come in so many colors and can be planted in the garden in sunny spots when the blooms fade. They will return to life in the spring if you give them a winter protection of mulch. Don’t trim the dead blooms yet. Leave them around until they turn really brown then crew-cut the plant and incorporate the trimmings into the soil. They will have seeds that may generate new plants when spring comes knocking.
Reluctantly, I leave you now to go tend to a few things in my own backyard. Today, I will appreciate the falling leaves and the smell of fall. In every chore I will remember to do what the Plant Doctor would have done and try to grow into her boots! Happy Gardening!
Email your gardening questions and comments to Lisa at gardening@sophisticatedwoman.com


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