Gardening For Idiots

I'm taking the Gardening for Dummies one step further. And this is more for myself than for any reader. But if you're gardenally challenged as I am, feel free to read on. I have learned these things:

1. Never drive along the roadsides and dig up flowers to transplant to your garden. I don't care if your garden is ginormous and it needs filled with flowers or it'll be overtaken by weeds. Those flowers you're digging up? They ARE weeds. Hence the growing along the roadside bit. What are you? An idiot?

2. Weeding is much easier just after a good rain when the soil is still moist. You'll notice the moist part. Not wet. That just makes for a large mess. And it's also much easier to weed when the darn things are little rather than waiting until they're full grown and have already gone to seed. This just makes for more weeds to dig up later in the year. Idiot.

3. You can garden on the cheap by buying larger plants from the nursery and splitting the root ball in half. Now you have two! Brilliance. Of course, they'll each be smaller and take a little longer to establish themselves in your garden. And regular fertilizer will be a valuable plus to help the roots take good hold. But next year? You'll truly have double your money. Now who's the idiot?

4. Rule #3 also applies to plants that have been well established in your garden. Hosta splits well. It's also fairly hard to kill, which is a good plant to experiment with. Ask me how I know. Sometimes the plant will die back to nothing once it's split (think surgery gone wrong) but never fear, in 99.9% of the cases it springs anew next year. And then you've got double the pleasure. Not looking like such an idiot now, are we?

5. Ivy takes over. I know this is a good thing if you have a space that needs some kind of taking over, but it will find areas that it should not be in and take these over as well. You can cut ivy back to nothing in an effort to kill it off, and this will serve as a springboard to grow that much more profusely. There is no killing ivy. The best we can do is to try to keep it under control. It makes an idiot out of an uninformed gardener.

6. A good pair of gloves is your friend. I know this sounds like common sense, but dont' wait until after you've developed a blister and then put the gloves on. That just screams idiocy.

7. Plants need topsoil to grow in. A thin handful of topsoil scattered over shaly backfill is not enough to grow grass in, much less anything with any kind of roots. You can aerate, water and fertilize until you run out of money, but the fact remains that you need a fair amount of topsoil to grow anything. Big fat idiot.

8. When large flocks of birds invade your lawn, do not let the dogs out to scatter them, laughing with glee at the stupid birds who had no right being there in the first place. Turns out, birds are our friends. Those Japanese beetles that we loathe so much? Their grubby little offspring are in the soil making an easy feast for the birds. What an idiot.

9. When digging up weeds, it's best to burn the suckers. Tossing them randomly into the lawn or on a heap for the kids and dogs to scatter will only increase your overall weediness. And tossing them into the hedge to die a slow root-exposed death will not work. They find a way to not only survive, but thrive. And their new mission is to personally take down your prized plants. Geez, what an idiot.

10. It's best to place your vegetable garden in an area where you will trip over it frequently. When you hide away this patch of grocery goodness you tend to forget about it. Or at least you forget about weeding it, because out of sight is out of mind. I've conveniently located mine where I see it every time I get into or out of my vehicle, as well as every time I'm in my kitchen looking out a window. Convenient, indeed. Before I strategically relocated the veggie garden, I would weed it on average once a summer. Weeds tend to take over if it's not done with more regularity than this. You'd think I'd have known that. What an idiot.

11. Mint is actually a weed. It's a wonderfully useful and fragrant weed, but weedy nonetheless. And as a weed it has take-over tendencies. It's highly recommended that you plant this in pots, or at least in areas that are contained. Placing rocks between your mint bed and your veggie garden does not qualify as a barrier. They spread by their root system underground. And their roots have no problem going right under rocks. Silly idiot.

12. The more expensive the plant, the greater the chance that it'll die quickly. This will be the one that the dogs are inexplicably drawn to, the one the kids use the baseball bat on, and the one that accidentally gets run over with the lawn mower. There is really nothing to be done about this. I'm still an idiot because I keep buying them.

13. If you're going to have entire beds dedicated to certain herbs, it's best to place the mint by the back door and the chives by the garden rather than vice versa. Because who wants to smell onions every time the door opens? And how on earth am I going to eradicate the mint from it's designated space so that I can do an herbal Trading Spaces? I am truly the largest gardening idiot out there.

*A lot of the pictures were taken by the kids. They're good, no?


Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Y'know, for someone that claims to know nothing about gardening, you sure do seem to know a lot. I know, I know, trial and error. How do you think everybody else learned all the stuff that they know?

And, yes, mint can be evil. Very, very evil. I want it to take over our hillside, but it keeps insisting on taking over the entire universe.

OHmommy said...

Yes, very good.

It is pouring out right now and all I can think of is... yahoo, I get to weed tomorrow. :)

Shari said...

Live and learn. You sound like a seasoned gardener now.

You forgot one more thing about weeding. When weeding,you don't weed it and add more weeds to it. You de-weed it. (Yeah, I'm weird.) I kill plants. :( I do have a hosta that doesn't require a lot of care.

Aimee said...

No, you're not the biggest gardening idiot out there. That would be me, Ole Black Thumb herself. If you looked at my garden as a barometer of how I fared with keeping things alive, you would fear for my children.

caution said...

This is great stuff. And I think you are misleading us about not knowing much gardening stuff.

Good pix!

Debbie Yost said...

Addedum to #1, if you are in Missouri, don't dig up the flowers on the side of the road because they are protected by law and you'll get a ticket. (Just in case you're ever in my neck of the woods.)

Thanks for all the great tips!

LaskiGal said...

You are the most brilliant idiot alive. I seriously know nothing about gardening. Clearly, you know A LOT!!!

Andrea said...

The whole baseball bat thing! Wow how ture is that, I had to stop my toddler from hitting my plants with a baseball bat yesterday. Why do they do that? The kids did a good job with the pictures!!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Very helpful! And am now considering spreading ivy over entire yard just so that it hides everything else. Like my dead plants and weeds.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

So glad to meet a fellow gardening idiot. My gardening misadventures were documented a couple of years ago. I never give up, though. I'm at it again this year; law of averages says I've got to be successful one of these summers.

Flea said...

Bwahahaha! I've learned most of those lessons myself. This year I learned that weeding the crab grass from the garden in spring, when it's still dormant, is SOOO much easier than waiting till it's growing and has a stranglehold on the dirt. And that Oklahoma dirt? Holds weeds like precision vice grips. Florida sand spoiled me. :(

Birdie said...

pretty, pretty, pretty!

Shellie said...

#12 is so very true, as well as the 1x a year weeding. Those shots are great! And at my house mint is not a weed, I have to buy more every year because it is my husband's mission in life to destroy all mint wherever it may be found. I could lend him to you if you need it.

just jamie said...

DAY-AM, I truly am a gardening idiot. I planted bulbs up-side down. Catch my drift. So I read this very carefully. And now, I'm going to write a check to the gardener. :)