What not to do in the garden
I read a lot of articles on what to do in the garden, but never read anything about what not to do. Here are some tips to help you avoid some mistakes, and you can guess how I know many of them.
§ Do not plant until the ground is fully prepared. Beds need all the grass removed and a lot of organic matter like compost added before a seed or plant enters. If you don’t have the time to do it right at first, you’ll never have the time to do it. Instead of trying to remove the grub which is grueling and next to impossible, make a “Lasagna” garden right above the Bermuda grass.
§ Don’t buy plants if you don’t have room to put them in. By telling yourself that you will find a spot, the plant may languish in a pot for weeks or be planted in the wrong place. This is a real problem for me, as I often feel compelled to collect plants from parking lots and garden centers. I have some beautiful plants that come from Lowe’s clearance shelving; however, a lot of them had to play musical plants after I planted them just to put them in the ground and later had to move them because that wasn’t the best place to start. Plant the right plant in the right spot, and getting the proverbial “green thumb” is easy.
§ Don’t neglect to mulch every square inch of soil. Mother Nature abhors a vacuum; therefore, something will grow in the bare soil, and it will almost certainly be weeds. Mulch improves the soil, makes plants healthier, reduces watering, keeps the soil cooler, reduces weeds, and looks much prettier. Mulch allows gardeners to save up to 80% of the manual labor in the garden, and it is extremely appreciated in the heat of August or if you just want to have time for activities other than gardening in order to ‘be a more balanced person.
§ Do not delay cleanup after planting an area. If you don’t collect every empty jar before moving on to another job, you’ll be so tired that you risk leaving it for later. Put away tools and equipment so you know where they are when you get ready to work next time. Always put the hoses away immediately so you won’t trip over them, kill a pipe-shaped strip of Bermuda grass, or make a chew toy for your dog.
§ Don’t make a new bed without a good border. Rock or stone is permanent, and timber and railroad ties are semi-permanent. They will help keep the soil and mulch in and the grass out. Bermuda runners can infiltrate at night after a good rain or if you are out of town for just a few days, so be careful.
§ Do not plant aggressive and invasive plants in your flower beds. Beware of accepting plants from anyone who tells you they are “vigorous and multiply quickly.” What this really means is that they will take over your entire garden in a year and you will never get rid of them.
§ Never plant mint of any kind in your flower beds. It is almost comparable to bamboo and it is about as difficult to get rid of. Be careful with some artemesias and monardas for the same reason. They are good candidates for the bed near the mailbox where the hose will not reach or confined to the containers.
§ Keep hummingbird feeders stocked and plant lots of colorful flowers to attract butterflies. Be sure to add dill, flat leaf parsley and fennel for the black swallowtail butterflies and milkweed for the monarch butterflies to lay eggs on and their caterpillars to eat.
§ Do not try to work for hours in the heat of the day. Follow the shade, take breaks, stay hydrated, and change tasks. Instead of weeding for hours, weed for a while, plant for a while, spread mulch for a while, and sit in the shade and read for a while. Your garden should be nice, so take some time to relax and smell the roses, lilies and phlox in the garden. Happy June gardening!