Curing the Gardening Phobia

“Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste”*

The Sentimental Gardener

I’m not a sentimental gardener…that is, I don’t let every cute little thing grow just to see whether it might have a flower.

Don’t get me wrong…I once tried the “wildflower mix”…but all the little spindly things looked no different from weeds. I didn’t know how to weed the patch and ended up ripping it all out. But in that spot, I still hesitate over some seedlings…thinking they might be leftovers and maybe I should let them grow.

But now, I’ve been cured…I discovered too late this year that they were dang horsetail weeds—so tough I had to pull on them with my full body weight and still couldn’t get them out! They did respond to my pitchfork, however.

The Grandmother Gardener

I’m done with sentiment in the garden. I recall my grandma, Esther Miller…the typical elder lady in a flowered house dress…bending from the hip to grab weeds during any and every conversation with all neighbors and any visitors. She had no sentimental attachment to anything in the garden.

I asked her once, “How do you know which is the weed?” She just chuckled at me.

I thought of Esther as I lay back in a 30˚ angle, hanging on to that horsetail weed. She’d never be caught dead in this position…

But that was last week…

Citizen Scientist

About 3 weeks ago, I started a mini case study. No more sentimental “trying it out…” I’ve often used lots of organic solutions over the years. I could swear anecdotally that they work, but I decided this time…since I’m writing for the misty, peopled cyberspace universe…that I should actually take pictures and track progress.

It seemed like a great spin on the embarrassing state of my garden.

So, I identified powdery mildew on the lilac and the peonies that grow nearby. An organic solution comprises 1 T. each of baking soda, dishwashing liquid (without bleach), and canola oil. Mix that into 1 gallon of water and spray generously on the affected plant. Every 14 days ought to do it.

In the beginning, it really seemed to be working. Even now, the lilac actually looks better—even though I never got back to spray it again. Weather….summer travel…giant weeds…all in the way.

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But 2 of the peonies developed a bigger problem. On a website called Flower Gardening Made Easy, the problem is unceremoniously called Leaf Blotch. It develops after too many rainy cool days. They recommend cutting off all the affected parts—down to the ground, if necessary—and wait for next year.

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If you’re a sentimental gardener, you hesitate to cut it down. It takes a scientific approach to not care about cutting down a plant–and I did cut it down–right after I took the pictures.

So, my “scientific”–and optimistic–conclusion is that the organic mixture works well on powdery mildew. Just keep your fingers crossed that you don’t also get Leaf Blotch.

The Optimistic Gardener

I am now embracing the idea of being an optimistic gardener. I take 1 hour a day to look for—and nurture—beautiful growing things. Recognizing something that is no help in that endeavor—and getting rid of it quickly—is a boon.

So if there are any twinkling lights in the black hole of cyberspace… I urge you to cut yourself loose from anything dragging you down…before you get caught with your ass in the grass hanging on to it.

*Title from Richard III, Act II, Scene IV

Learn more about powder mildew here:

Information about Black-eyed Susans:

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