As a gardener, I have many things to confess. The ideal image of a person bending over neat rows with gloves, apron, hat and trowel, with that odd tiny rake sitting off to the side ready to be used (does anyone ever actually use that thing?) is not me. Not even close.
Confession number 1: Clothes don’t make the gardener.
I am the person who gets out of their car after work to “quickly” go check on a plant that has been on my mind, and is pulled out of my gardening reverie several hours later by my ever-patient husband. I have gardened in pajamas, suits, skirts, paint clothes and so on. Gloves? Not unless there are stickers, and I usually remove the gloves once the offending plant or cane is safely handled. My knees and hands are generally grimy, cold and damp through late spring as I transplant my tiny seedlings from their hardening-off station on the porch into their new summertime home. I come back often to cheer them on, pull back any encroaching weeds and celebrate each new leaf and shoot as they get established.
Confession number 2: Gardening is my dirty pleasure.
For me, gardening is a joy of experience, wonder and connection with the world around me. There is nothing like the feeling of rich earth waking up from the winter, coming alive with the creepy crawlies that build a healthy soil. If I see an earthworm while planting, I make sure to put it in the top layer when I fill the hole. That ensures the young plant will have healthy, aerated and germy soil to thrive in. The earth gives back to gardeners in this case as well–one of the best and fastest ways to rebuild a healthy biome is to garden with gloves off. This is helpful in supporting our immune systems, and prevents ever needing a fecal transplant (yuck!). Gardening is a sensory immersion that I treasure in our heavily digitized world.
Confession number 3: Sometimes I let my plants go a little wild.
I love to experiment with new plants, methods and types of harvesting. I have no rows. I continue to try different methods of gardening, and I find myself most often doing an adaptation of the square foot gardening method. I take the principles of the method, measure haphazardly and plant in a moderately disorganized way. Last year I tried planting in Smart Pots, which worked fairly well since we had an extremely rainy summer. Kale did nicely in them, as did carrots and other greens. Beans did less well, possibly because of the increased wind exposure. Since the pots have a fixed diameter, measuring was quite simple. A nice bonus is that once I empty the pots of their dirt they fold up for efficient winter storage.
During the summer, once the first couple of waves of weeds have been plucked and the cultivated plants are well established, my husband is the loyal waterer of our garden. He has a fantastic gut instinct for when the plants are going to be thirsty that I simply do not have. I find joy in planting, nurturing and harvesting, but without him our garden would not be nearly as lush nor as bountiful. This turns my garden into our garden, and we both love the results that our teamwork achieves.
There is no need to be the picture perfect gardener. Instead, I urge you to be wild, creative, passionate and above all, a JOYFUL gardener.
Now that you have the dirt on me, what are your confessions as a gardener?
I am a gardener who loves to live in Anchorage, Alaska.