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Monday, July 07, 2008

Regardless, We Must Keep Going

It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

When do the dog days of summer start? I don't think they've started in my garden, I haven't even harvested the first decent tomato yet.

I did harvest a tiny orange-y tomato from the tiniest tomato plant I've ever seen, 'Micro Tom'. It was almost big enough to taste.

I also picked two small squash and ate them this evening. Now, if you are gardening where it is hot and dry, skip this next part.

I've had a couple of squash just rot before they got to any size. I think this is because of all the rain and what I think are cooler than average temperatures for this part of summer. So when I saw two small squash, I picked them and ate them before something or someone else got to them. It was just one serving.

Okay, those who skipped that part can now rejoin.

We are at the point of the summer, whether these are dog days or not, when we either like how our garden is growing or don't like how it is growing and wish we could turn the clock back and start over.

For those who want to turn the clock back and start over, I have good news for you! If you'll wait a few months, you will actually be able to start over. That's one of the benefits of gardening, the clean slate of spring! Or the clean slate of fall, depending on where you garden.

Seriously, sort of, these are days when we start to lose those who are half-hearted about gardening. This is when it gets tough. The garden still needs as much attention as it did in the spring, when we were all enthused and couldn't wait to get outside.

But now, it's hot. We are tired. Some of us would like to just stay inside for awhile and not worry about the garden. But we can't!

Regardless of how hot it is or because it is how hot it is, we still need to water a lot of the plants.

Regardless of how careful we were, how much we mulched, and any weeding we did earlier, we still have weeds to pull, including big tough weeds that laugh and grow in the heat.

Regardless of how much we wish the birds would eat them all, we are still going to find insects in the garden, bad insects sucking the life out of plants, gnawing at the roots, burrowing into stems or eating holes in the leaves, and we have to figure out how to control them.

Regardless of any truce we think we've come to with the rabbits, deer, moles, mice, neighbor's cats and other critters that want to make our gardens their homes and restaurants, we still have to figure out ways to keep them from ruining the garden.

Yes, if someone is half-hearted about gardening, this is usually where it ends for them, about the time the mythical dog days of summer start.

But it doesn't end here for the rest of us. We are weeding, watering, hoeing, pruning, deadheading and yes, planning.

We are planning for big harvests, thinking about new beds to dig in the fall, looking at catalogs once again to see what bulbs to order for fall planting. We are making notes of what's doing well, trying to figure out why some things aren't going well.

We aren't going to quit now. We can't. We are gardeners. We are in it through it all.

Honestly, I've never met a true gardener who up and quit on their garden. Have you?


Ewa said...

oh, what a relief to know, that it is not only me who feels that way :)... but true is that it is still 2 summer months ahead of us :)

Frances, said...

The dog days have already begun. The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. True gardeners take heart, we will beat the weeds, insects, and weather. We will triumph because we will never give in!!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yes, I fight those wild dogs all summer fussing and fuming about the heat and humitdity but onward and outward.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I woke up this morning, looked out and saw wet grass after yesterday's rain, and felt a certain elation. "Yay! I don't have to go outside today." I just know I'm going to be drubbed out of the gardening geek club with that attitude.

Glad Frances explained the "Dog Days". I always get annoyed when radio announcers toss that term around with no notion that it relates to an astronomical event.

Perhaps you should hang up some teru teru bozu to make the rain go away.

Rose said...

Thanks for the great motivational speech! It is hard at this time of year to get energized enough to tackle the gardening chores when the sweat is dripping into your eyes, the mosquitoes and flies are biting your ankles, and the weeds are the tough "laugh in your face" ones you describe. But the garden is too beautiful right now to let things go. We will persevere!

By the way, I think your vegetable garden definitely is full of "pretties"!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Quit on my garden? Madam you jest! I'm ever the optimist and right now I'm working on my new border inbetween showers of rain, that is. For me the most work has to be done in Spring, in Summer there is less to do. No homegrown tomatoes here either so far. BTW Have you got everything in order for the ceremony of the first tomato? :-D

Perennial Gardener said...

Amen Carol, thanks for the motivation to keep going...I guess we all feel like throwing in the trowel at this time of the year, but our garden still needs us.

Gail said...


Those puppies are here and running around like crazy...they brought all the biting and annoying insects with them! But not go out there. Couldn't do it, have to go out, even if it means scratching all afternoon!

Daphne said...

Actually I did find something to keep me from gardening last year - mono. It is amazing what can happen to your garden if you totally ignore it for one year. This spring I was a little afraid to start. Getting it back in shape was daunting. I guess I lose my title of 'gardener', but all the other years I've never given up.

Steve said...

A perfect rendition of what gardening requires and what to expect. Well done! This should be required reading for those who suspect there's a bit of work involved in gardening, lol.

I have gone for fewer chemicals in my projects, meaning more investment for my own labors and my clients as well, regarding weeding. I feel very good about that, although I fear the next person who maintains what I build will not be so scrupulous. It is something of a sea change for me.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I would like to add another: we are ripping things out. Those plants which for some reason or another decided to up and die are outta here. It is true that now is when the box stores roll up their plants and let them die because no one is coming to buy them anymore. Here, my friends are all tired of gardening. They think it's work, and they're right.~~Dee

Muum said...

I had friends who both worked, were raising 4 kids, and their strategy - which prob looks like 'quitting' was to plant everything and see what they got at the end. Minimal care was all they really had time for.

oh - and I DO think compost is bEE-u-TI-ful!


I love this post! I've been getting out early to do the weeding. We've been having 95 degree days with high humidity after a slow start of rainy and cool (dare I say unusual?) summer weather. This post serves as a cheer for me. YES! It is worth it to keep going. I am woman. Hear me roar! I am a gardener! I will not quit!

Carol said...

Thanks all for the nice comments and for finding my post motivational. It is as much for me as anyone. Sometimes we need that extra "talkin' to" to keep us going. As they say, we are halfway across the lake, can't turn back now, so we keep swimming toward the other shore.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens