Sloppy Gardening at May Dreams Gardens

There is some sloppy gardening going on here at May Dreams Gardens!

Indeed, the raised bed vegetable garden may have given the impression that all is neat and in order around here.

But that is not the case.

There is abundant evidence of sloppiness.

For example....

Whenever I go out into the garden, my knees get all dirty.

Thought I have some of those soft, cushiony kneeling pads, I often forget to bring them out into the garden when I am doing a lot of kneeling. And if I do remember to use the kneeling pad, I generally kneel on it to start with, and then when I move to the next place, I forget about it. Later, when I am putting everything away, I completely forget about the kneeling pad and leave it out in the garden to get rained on, walked on by rabbits and occasionally blown around by the wind. Sloppy!

My fall bulb planting technique seems to be a little on the sloppy side, too.How did that tulip bulb end up on top of the ground? I suspect some sloppy planting techniques are to blame. I probably didn't plant this pair deep enough and then they "heaved" out of the ground through a series of freezing and thawing cycles. Or these are some of the bulbs from the year before that I uprooted while planting new bulbs and I left them laying on top of the ground. In either case... Sloppy!

Here's another example of plant heaving.This is a new dwarf tall phlox that I planted late last year. (I know, 'dwarf tall phlox' sounds funny to me, too, but that's what it is.) If I had done a better job of mulching around it, it probably wouldn't have heaved out of the soil like that. Sloppy fall preparation, indeed!

Do you southern gardeners know about this heaving phenomenon? As the soil freezes and thaws and freezes and thaws and freezes and thaws through the winter, shifting of the ground can occur, uprooting some perennials and other plants. I used the heel of my boot to push this perennial back down and I think it will be fine. But really, I should have put more mulch around it and then it would have had a better chance of staying planted. Sloppy!

By the way, that freezing and thawing is also what causes "potholes" in our roads and parking lots. This year must have been a big freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw year because I have never seen so many big pot holes like we have this year. You could lose a Miata in some of those pot holes,

Now, sloppy isn't always bad.

For example, I think it is better to leave some of your perennials uncut through the winter and then cut them back in the spring. It might look sloppy, but the birds enjoy eating the seeds left on the seed heads.

And it is a losing battle to try to be neat with a compost bin. You can't "neatly stack" all those plant trimmings, rotting vegetables, and leaves, so why try? The best you can do is try to hide the compost bins.

Does anyone else want to confess to some sloppiness in the garden? Or am I the only sloppy gardener?


  1. Luckily, I don't have to deal with the heaving phenomenon...although I have heard about it before, probably on a blog! I think the little pile of rose leaves I gathered about two months ago and keep forgetting to pick up (since it's somewhat hidden behind a bench) counts as sloppy. I didn't want it to end up in the compost so left it for "later". I also have a few chunks of concrete from the patio removal last spring scattered about...I don't know why I haven't been able to gather them up...sloppy I guess!

  2. As a Southern gardener, I can tell you that in the Deep South there is no heaving because the ground never freezes. In the summer, it can get so hot that the pavement may buckle which can cause our potholes.
    As for the sloppiness, yes that shows up around here, too. I think that just comes from the nature of gardening.

    Jan Always Growing

  3. Freeze thaw is an everyday event here on Long Island and we get tons of heaving and pot holes the size of New Jersey. Does finding one of your tools out in the garden count as sloppy? Especially if it's been there since last fall???

    My husband can't do sloppy. He made me the neatest compost heap in the world. Then I began to compost, now he sighs everytime he sees it. Well hello, it is a compost heap!

  4. That's really sad that you got to deal with that heaving and such. It would annoy me to no end. I love to do anything but dig holes. Once I get it in--it better not come out!

    I have to admit to sloppiness. Mostly I hate to weed. I will wait until the weed gets big so it will be easier to pull out with my handy dandy weed puller gadget. Sometimes I wait too long and they go to seed--yikes.

  5. Carol, I never cut back my perennials' foliage until spring. It's for the birds first, and also because I was taught it's healthier for the plants and they tend to overwinter better. I don't know if that's really true, but I do find them easier to clean up in spring than in the fall.

    I'm basically a lazy gardener, like to spend more time enjoying the garden than working in it. That probably works out about the same as sloppy.

    Yes, I have left tools out. I lost my shovel somewhere last spring. I know it's out there somewhere. . . Linda

  6. Messy??? Once the snow and crud is gone I'll let you know! lol! I have definitely gotten into the "leaving the seed pod for the birds" plan...especially once October and November hit and my fall course grading ramps up!
    Ss for in Mass. they are rampant. One of my husband's student's hit one recently and deployed his airbags!!

  7. Wasn't it a magnificent day today? I worked in the yard cleaning up some of my sloppy mess. I left seed heads for the birds, but got those cleaned up and the grasses cut back. It felt so good. I noticed a few bulb out of the ground too, but not any heaving plants.

  8. Yes - our onion sets 'heave' out after a frost - otherwise the birds play with them!

  9. Carol, yesterday I left a most brilliant and clever post on your signs of spring and blogger must have eaten it! ( Or maybe I wasn't signed in properly);-> Anyway, here in zone 7 TN, it is the land of heave, I didn't know you were infected also up north. Heucheras, bulbs, and those onion babies, like TopVeg mentioned will all be totally out of the ground and will have to be stuck back in. More mulch seems to help though but to mulch the whole garden we would have to take a second mortgage on the house and you know how that market is right now!

  10. Sloppy in the garden...yes, I am guilty as charged. The plants don't usually mind seeing dirty knees and it seems I flip dirt all over me.

  11. The ground is still too frozen for anything to heave; that will come later. Right now we are in what Judy Miller calls glass bottom boat days, when the snow melts and you can see everything that got left at the bottom of the snow. Everything from missing mittens to the empty six packs that never got put away and got lost in a clump of grass, which has now died down.

  12. I am the epitome of the sloppy gardener. Which is sort of funny, as I am compulsive indoors! I frequently forget my gardening gloves, and end up with dirt underneath my fingernails for days. And are you sure the rabbits aren't unearthing the bulbs?

  13. I'm sloppy about cutting back my perennials and I always tell others around here they should too. We have some very cold winters and usually little snow. Frost heaving is a real threat and anything that helps collect debris and snow is a help.

    I too have cases where plants planted from pots have 'stuck out' - often it's a case that the mulch has been 'eaten' by the soil. I have an almost unlimited supply of composted horse bedding (small wood chips and shavings) that seems to dissappear even over the winter.

  14. Isn't that what gardening is all about? The chance to play in the dirt and mud and be sloppy? It's like being a kid again.
    But really, Carol, you need kneeling pads that strap over the knee and moves with you. It's the only way to go.

  15. Hey! Finally something I excel in! Sloppiness in the garden - I bet I have you beat, Carol!

  16. Sloppiness in my garden? Don't go there. Let's just say that after the snow melted, I found several missing toys. I applaud your candor in photographing the warts.

  17. The only kind of sloppy in the garden that really bothers me is when I work until I'm ready to drop without planning for clean-up, put-away time. The worst is a wheelbarrow full of mole dirt left out where the invariable night time rains turn it into a rolling quagmire.
    At least ten years ago, I bought my cousin a pair of work pants from Smith & Hawkin with inside knee pockets to hold pads (you can slip them out to launder the pants). He recently told me that he wears them still, and that they are his favorite gardening accessory.

  18. The only heaving we Austinites know is heaving bags of mulch around before the summer heat arrives. The ground never freezes when you get just two or three light frosts each winter.

  19. Would you like photos? I have photos of sloppy...

    We have frost heave in Nashville and the dozen heuchera I planted in August have been thrown out of the ground. There are errant bulbs about, isn't it amazing that they are still viable? There is a proliferation of black plastic pots....I trimmed the grasses and now pieces of grass are blowing about on this windy March day.

    Isn't is wonderful that spring is here...well distract us.


  20. I'm guilty of it all! I don't even know where my kneeling pad is, I use the toe of my shoe to push roots back in place, I toss dead annuals in the back of the garden and promise to pick them up in the spring, sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. And, none of my perennials are cut back yet. I'll get to it.

  21. Oh, I hear you on sloppy, and on frost heaving--and in our case, excessive washout in a couple of spots led to bulbs surfacing over the past few days. Our 'lawn' is hysterical, Carol--it heaves and humps and hillocks and looks like a blanket with seven cats under it, but it all flattens out again. Eventually.
    Have't been able to get dirty yet, myself, but the next mild day...what with the ground emerging from the snow and all...I feel the need to putter, just a little.

  22. Wow -- I knew about the heaving from 'Something there is that doesn't love a wall...' but I didn't realise it made little bumps as well as the kind that disorder dry-stone walls!
    We don't have heaving here, of course, and our potholes are caused by rain.

  23. I'm turning green with envy... I can't WAIT until I can ruin another pair of jeans in the garden!!!

    Oh, but this is confession time, sorry. ;) I am definitely sloppy, and should take a picture of my atrocious front porch to prove that. (Think 3-4 hanging basket stashed behind the porch railing... a trashpicked paned window that hasn't made it out to the garden... etc.)

  24. You're not hinting that you'd rather be chauffeured around Austin during Spring Fling in my cool (albeit rather dirty) Miata than in my husband's boring and pokey PT Cruiser, are you?

    Austin has plenty of potholes! Wet clay expands. Dry clay contracts. Underground pipes break. Miata disappears.

  25. Carol: I guess the closest thing we have to heaving-out in Florida are the armadillos that make their way around at night heaving out bulbs and newly planted materials. Grrrr!

    Sloppy? I can look very sloppy on any given gardening day and smell pretty badly too. LOL I was just thinking today when burying my kitchen cuttings how very rudimentary my compost pile appears- sloppy is probably a better description. Hey- it works for me but it isn't pretty.
    Meems @ HoeandShovel


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