WHEN JOE LAMP’L emailed the other day to ask about how I deal with garden overwhelm, I thought: Do I tell him I sometimes just go upstairs with some goat cheddar and a pack of brown rice-tamari-seaweed crackers, and stream BBC procedural dramas?
I had a feeling that was the kind of answer he could come up with himself (though perhaps with a different menu). Hmmmm…
I love talking to Joe, the host of the PBS show “Growing a Greener World,” and podcaster at JoeGardener dot com, so of course I said yes, and then I thought: but what is the secret? I have a 2.3-acre garden, and a limited budget for helpers. Plus: I set the bar pretty high and open for visitors’ tours a few times a season, so I cannot just avoid my chores, pretending there are no weeds or deadheads to tend to.
As those of you who have been around awhile know, in July sometime every year, I declare it Throw in the Trowel Week (Month?). I absolutely do get overwhelmed, but after all these years I know that’s part of the deal—during the heroic spring and fall cleanups, and also at the moment when spring is truly done and everything looks like hell. I know that then, or during drought or other high-drama weather stressors, I will feel undone. But I also know from decades of experience that this too shall pass.
As long as you have your list, that is, and know how to manage it—to cherry-pick through it each day or week for the task(s) that really cannot go unattended one more minute, and focus on those and only those.
Otherwise, I stagger around feeling like it’s all just too much (or go hide upstairs).
Other tactics I rely upon include knowing my weeds (you can’t fight back in a timely, effective manner otherwise), and using the right mulch the right way. Plus frankly, I look for reasons why certain areas don’t need such scrupulous, time-intensive attention. It turns out being a little messy can be good for cultivating beneficial insects, birds and more, while also lightening my load.
I hope you will go over to JoeGardener dot com and listen to our complete conversation, with details on all of that and more. And come to think of it maybe sample some of the other chats Joe and I have had, listed below, on podcasts or on his public-television program “Growing a Greener World.’ Like I said, I always enjoy a talk with him.
my past visits with joe lamp’l
- This latest conversation, on fighting garden overwhelm
- On garden-enhancing gadgets you can build from store-bought “cattle panels”
- On why, and how, to take a soil test (and especially why to do it this fall)
- On beginning beekeeping, one of Joe’s recent passions
- On how bought-in compost (or hay, or straw) can backfire if it contains persistent herbicides
- Watch Joe’s first visit to my garden, as broadcast on PBS
- Watch our second TV segment here, about gardening for the birds