12December 30, 2015

The last column of the year is a bit unsettling to do. I think if there is anything I may have missed telling you to do in your yard. With 51 columns a year, I wouldn’t think I have missed anything important. Sometimes the hardest thing is to get all the timely information into one column. But time and gardening do march on and in the case of the garden, things stay the same and yet they can change a lot in a few seasons. As an example, who would have thought 6 years ago that a tiny green and white caterpillar could do so much damage to the trees just as the leaves unfold in the spring? Who would have thought that you would go outside one morning and the side of your house would be covered with black and orange bugs. Both these creatures were freaking people out this year. The caterpillar will be worse next year and who knows if the box elder bugs will swarm houses in the fall. It is the irony that things usually stay the same in the garden. You need to water and fertilize the plants. Sometimes you have to treat for insects or plant diseases. Yet some years certain things take center stage. Remember the year that late blight came early and practically wiped out the tomato harvest in our area? There are years when aphids are everywhere. There are years when ladybugs are everywhere. There are years when earwigs are everywhere. The following year, last years pest is gone. I guess this is what keeps gardening interesting. You always need to be vigilant in the garden. You just never know what the pest may be or if you need to water or pray for the rain to stop before the plants die from too much water. Being able to roll with Mother Natures punches is what creates seasoned gardeners from the beginning gardener. You have to learn from your mistakes. You have to figure out what your plants need to keep them happy and you have to remember what went wrong 10 years ago so you don’t make the same mistake twice. Yet once those flowers begin to bloom or you get that first vine ripened tomato off your own plant, the rewards of gardening soon outweigh the problems that crop up in the garden. I guess that is why gardeners keep growing plants year after year. It can be a good way to unwind after work. It can be a whole series of life lessons when you get your children or grandchildren into gardening.  If you want to know the real joy of gardening, watch a child’s face as their first annual flower forms a flower or they pick their first vegetable out of the garden.

When the end of planting season comes, many of you are truly bummed out. Yet as the weather warms in spring, those gardening juices flow in the veins and we are soon back to playing in the dirt. I sometimes think that gardening is almost a primal instinct that gets us out into the sun and creating wonder in our yards as the spring finally breaks. Winter may be here, but spring is only 3 to 4 months away. That may sound like a long time away, but think of it as 12 weeks or so. We all know how fast a week can go by!

Well that’s all for this week. Thank you to all of you who read this column each week. I’ll talk to you again “next” year.

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