There are many pictures on the internet and in books of perfectly manicured gardens. I wonder if they scare folks away from extensive gardening. Gardening is one of the greatest pleasures. Your seed packets come with a gym membership, a psychologist, a muse, and a guru. Here are three things to remember or incorporate into your gardens.
#1 Weeds. A couple that was leaving my home after picking up medicine were walking down my front path when the gentleman noted in awe that I had weeds in my rows of vegetables. Goodness, if I had to make sure that all weeds were gone, I’d a quit a long time ago. Weeds (in moderation) can provide mulch, shade, and you can get to them once a week or so with a hoe or some gardening gloves after an extra cup of coffee.
As for rough paths between, where you were sure you measured the distance to fit a lawn mower in, you can just pull weeds and set them back down on the path. They may or may not come up by the root and that is okay. As they die on the path they create their own mulch to suffocate their brethren. Not perfect, but good enough.
You can eat a lot of the weeds but we do tend to get sick of them by July. Next year I will be more diligent with cardboard and mulch. There is always next year! You know, let it go a little wild. If sunflowers want to grow in the potatoes, so be it.
#2 Plants Gone to Seed. When we see the shoots of flowers coming up from plants such as radishes and spinach, we hurry and harvest as much as we can, or eat as much as we can, or forget until it’s too late. But that is alright too! Now you have your own seed factories. The goal here is to have food forests. Say one year you broke your leg (heaven forbid) and you can’t get out into the gardens. The plants are reseeding themselves for you. This is one of the great gifts of nature! I let them stay in the garden until they start falling over. I then pull out most of them, make sure they dry thoroughly, and place the seed pods in bags. You won’t have to purchase those seeds next year. I always leave at least one plant to try and reseed itself.
#3 Yourself. Set up a chair in the garden. Hand water each day so that you can keep track of what is ready to eat. Sit under a tree with a cup of tea and a sketchpad. Smell the flowers in the garden each morning. Eat supper outdoors. Dance under the moon in the garden. Your garden should be an oasis, not just a grocery store. I wish all of your gardens beauty and bounty.