Carla Albright

Carla Albright

Much to everyone’s disappointment, the Tillamook County Master Gardener Plant Sale set for May 2, 2020 has been officially cancelled due to the coronavirus. Plants being nursed by MG members will stay in their care until next year. Also, sadly to say, the 2020 “Spade and Wade” Garden Tour has been postponed until 2021, too.

And now, onward…

As we are now spending more time in the garden than we have generally had before, we are given the unique opportunity to do some serious cleaning up in the flower and vegetable beds before we start planting for the 2020 summer season. And as I contemplated this – and I have had a lot of contemplation time this month – I thought there are basically two ways of tackling the cleanup.

The first way is to pick a task (I won’t say “chore” because when gardening becomes a chore, it isn’t fun anymore), whether it be cutting back ferns, weeding the beds, or picking up sticks, do only that in the entire garden. You only need to carry around the tools needed for the specific job and sometimes that means less time spent doing it. You don’t have to be looking in your bucket or apron for just the right tool because you only have one or two to deal with. And it can be very fulfilling to go through the garden and just get one thing done each day.

But often times that gets me into trouble as my day goes something like this: “Today I will be pruning dead branches from the Japanese maple trees so I have my long-handled loppers. Oh my, there is a hosta that needs to be divided. I had better do that first. I will get my shovel from the shed. Oh yes, and a knife to cut through the roots. (Time spent getting the shovel, digging and dividing the hosta = 30 minutes.) Okay, now it is divided, where will I put the new clump? I can put it over there where that heuchera has died back. Oh, but wait, I need my trowel to dig that out first so I can plant the hosta. (Time spent digging up heuchera = 10 minutes.) Opps, there are a bunch of bay laurel seedlings I need to pull. (Time spent pulling up seedlings = 30 minutes.) Now, what did I do with that hosta division? (Time spent looking for the hosta division = 10 minutes; planting hosta = 15 minutes)” And in the end, I have all my tools with me and forgot was I was supposed to be doing today which was pruning the maples.

So I would suggest a different way and one that I much prefer. And that is to focus on one area of the garden each day. I am lucky enough to have several garden areas or “rooms.” Some are shady, some are sunny, some have labor-intensive plants like roses and others have easy to grow plants. If the day is cool, I will work in the sunny part and if the day is warm, I work in the shade. I try to break up my week into a schedule where I do one large area or two or three small ones every nice day. When I have a nice day, I round up all the tools I will need to do that area and put them in a carrier that Gary made me last summer. I grab my bucket for weeds and clippings and a kneeling pad or stool. Then I go to work and get that area cleaned and tidied. I can take the time to really see what is growing or what should be growing in that particular area. At the end of my gardening day, I can figure out what needs to be adjusted for the coming days and if anything needs to be moved or divided and put that on the to-do list.

But, as in most things, there are exceptions to the “rules.” When I am putting out the garden art or the patio furniture for the season, I do that all at one time. I like to change where I put things just to have a fresh feel to the garden and patio. Also, if I am planting dahlias or flowering bedding plants, I will do all that at one time no matter where I want to put them.

It is easy to make up a daily list for gardening in areas instead of tasks. I like to work from to-do lists so I am able to cross things off at the end of the day. This way, you get to cross that whole area off your to-do list. I find that to be almost as satisfying as working in the garden itself.

Stay safe, my friends!

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