Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Not to Do in the Garden.

I am a gardener.  I find such joy in planting something with my own two hands, watching it grow and flower.  I'm always sad when summer is over.   But once it is, I spend the winter browsing garden catalogs and dog earring the pages of the plants I can't wait to buy come spring.  I pore through garden magazines,  research roses and read every good garden blog I can find.  And when spring finally arrives, I feed the holly, prune the roses, and enjoy every last whiff of the lilacs.

You would never know this of me this summer, however.  Because this year I took an entirely different approach and unwittingly conducted a research project on what not to do in the garden.  I got busy with work (a good thing) and pretty much did the opposite of what every garden expert tells you to do.  So here they are, the official results of my terrible experiment.

My Instructions on How to Have the Ugliest Garden in the Neighborhood:
  • Want weeds?  Don't mulch.  I've found the best way to grow a garden full of weeds is to not mulch (turns out when the garden experts say it chokes the weeds, they aren't lying).  I have preened, pulled and sprayed but there is nothing I can do to stop the weeds from quickly returning.
  • And speaking of weeds, have you ever wondered what happens when you don't take the time to pull those little weeds?  They grow up to be really big weeds.  Oh, and I've discovered they flower.  Flowers or no flowers, they're still ugly and an awful lot harder to pull out when they are 56" high.  Don't believe me?  See for yourself.
  • Rabbits are always a nice addition to a garden.  See how this little guy skillfully avoids every weed and concentrates exclusively on eating the pretty pink hardy geranium I planted last spring.  Luckily for me, I have an entire hungry family devouring every flower he misses.
  • And what about the plants the rabbits can't reach?  Bring in the deer, of course.  Rumor has it ours are being fed from a trough in a neighborhood backyard, but why not construct one of your own.  This will feed the deer you already have and bring in even more.  What garden couldn't use more deer!  Don't worry, these hungry creatures always have room for dessert--especially if you have roses, tulips, or lilies.
  • Once you have successfully lured the deer to your garden, don't spray your plants with any sort of hot pepper spray or Liquid Fence.  Surprisingly, it does deter the deer.  I've invested in this for years and complained that the deer still ate my plants.  Haven't sprayed at all this year and the deer are eating my plants to the ground.  I should note, the weeds remain untouched.
  • Container gardening is all the rage right now.  But why waste money on pretty annuals to fill your containers.  If you leave dirt in a pot long enough, eventually something will grow.
  • Japanese beetles, anyone?  Amazing how much destruction they can cause.  If, unlike me, you're having problems attracting them to your garden, put up one of those hanging yellow bags right next to your rosebushes.  You'll attract hundreds of beetles, and some of them are bound to eat the roses instead of falling into the bag.
  • And speaking of roses, I have babied mine in the past.  I prune them in the spring, sealing the cuts with glue.  I feed them monthly with rose food and Epsom salt, even give them a banana every once in awhile.  I was always curious if all this work made a difference.  Yep.  It does.  My neglect this year may have cost me half of my rosebushes.  I can't joke about this one.  It truly makes me sad.
So what else have I learned?  I've learned that there are plants that are resistant to every bug, every creature, every dry summer (and every neglectful gardener).  Liatris, snapdragons, lavender, butterfly bush, tickseed, boxwood, lamb's ear.  You'll be seeing a lot more of these indestructible plants in my garden next year.  Chances are you'll probably be seeing a lot more of me in the garden next year, too.  And it looks like I'll have a lot of catching up to do.


  1. Plant marigolds around the edge of the garden to keep the rabbits away. for a vegetable garden, build a deer fence, its the only thing that works. Or get a big dog.

    In houston, we build raised beds, keeps the bugs out and you can put a weed block layer on the bottom, that helps.

    Ignore the roses, they do best when ignored. I can't stop my roses from flowering and they are completely overgrown, unfertilized and ignored.

  2. You had me laughing.

    I feel your pain about your roses. I don't have to do much because I'm in a hot dry climate so the roses thrive and bloom with only a pruning once a year. Wonderfully little work. But my evil doesn't come over land. I watched my beautiful English tea roses wilt and die. Unbeknownst to me, ground squirrels had dug from the empty acreage next to me all the way underground and eaten the roots. I hate those things.

  3. I could run against you for the worst garden this summer. I spent so much time on the road that my poor plants were neglected. Cute post!

  4. Funny post! I do love gardening, but the bugs, digging and eating critters and uncooperative weather can get on my last nerve! If it's a good year for one type of plant, it's a bad year for another. I guess that's why we keep trying year after year! -Cheryl

  5. You made me laugh! Would love to garden but all I have is a tiny apartment with a very big bamboo plant (they don't require anything, they just grow!)

  6. LOL I have a planter that looks like that....weird little things grow in it too! Those beetles are so gross!...eek!

  7. I know they wreck havoc on a yard, but those deer are so pretty! My dad always says that I should never bring a plant into my yard, because all I am going to do is kill it. He feels sorry for them! :(

  8. Loved your post, had me laughing! Hope you read my post about weeds.

  9. So funny and not at the same time. Since I am in a little development and have a teeny fenced yard I don't have to worry about deer. I do however do battle with moles (where is the dynamite?) I did miss pruning last fall and that messed me up this spring. I think everything is on track now.

    I hate picky roses...I have a couple slated for removal soon. Eww I can't believe those beetles, glad I don't have anything that gross around here, did get crawled on by a little centepede the other day. I am sure the whole neighborhood heard me scream. In case you missed the link my garden blog is Start planning for next year!