Friday, May 22, 2009

Gardening 101

There's a moment every morning just before time to leave for work when I put aside the newspaper and grab my watering can from the garage. While it fills up I put on my stockings and shoes and then I go out front and water the vegetables, fill up the ollas and water the heliotrope and hen and chicks on the front porch. Then I go in the back and water the big pots with the dalea and ice plant and fill up the olla by the rose bush. If there's any left over it goes on the ephedra, because it's not quite established yet. I've always wanted to grow ephedra and now I have one and I'm going to bring it through the summer. (It shouldn't be too hard, since it grows in the wild out here.) The front is cool from the shade of the house, but the back is in sunlight diffused a little by the desert willow and palo verde. The chocolate flowers are open, the globe mallows are huge, the chaste trees have just started blooming; there are a lot of bees and some unidentifiable birds. I look for flowers on the vegetables, I look for yellow leaves and salt burn and old blooms that need deadheading. When I'm done watering I shut the back door on all this and put the watering can in the garage and go to work.
Gardening is as complicated as you want to make it. You don't have to have any special knowledge or talent -- to start, at least. (You do have to be willing to make mistakes and to learn from them.) Nor do you need a lot of money -- unless you are of that mindset. But what you do have to have is time. You have to be able to spend time with your plants, to read the signs of contentment and distress and respond to them. You have to put aside other things for a few minutes and go out and care for them, winter and summer. I'm convinced that a lot of failure in gardening has nothing to do with a "green thumb" -- it's just lack of time, or lack of drive to commit the time.
Well, if you do commit the time, your reward is five minutes in the garden before work.

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