The Right Way To Garden
A Gardening Life – January 27
My friend John Sullivan made this video for Plant Something Massachusetts. Set to a very hummable song written by Andy Rapo, the purpose of the project is to promote plants and gardening. A noble goal, wouldn’t you agree?
When John recently posted a link to the video in a Facebook group one member commented that what bothered her was the shot of overhead watering of a geranium. Most people who have grown geraniums know that they don’t like to have their leaves splashed with water. This leads to black spot and yellowed foliage…if repeated frequently, overhead watering could even kill the plant.
I had conflicting responses to that comment. On the one hand she is absolutely correct about geraniums and watering. On the other hand, I think that experienced gardeners, garden writers and other experts in the field are far too quick to jump in with our opinions on the right way to garden. In our zeal to give people the information that they need to be successful, we often make plants and gardening into a minefield of do’s and don’ts.
We give the general public mixed messages: “Have fun! Plant something!” we say, while following that up with “But don’t plant too deeply, don’t water that way, be sure not to underfeed but don’t overfeed either, don’t use this, this, and this but be sure to do that, that, and that,” and on and on.
The longer I help people with their plants and gardening, the more I see that there isn’t one right way to garden. Sure, there are tips for success (don’t overhead water your geraniums) but for each of these we can find examples of someone who did everything wrong but was still successful. Sometimes (dare I say often?) plants succeed against all odds.
To me, the message of the Plant Something! campaign is that people shouldn’t be afraid that they might not do it right. Being outdoors doing something real and fun with your family is reason enough. Experiencing the life-affirming involvement with nature is reason enough. Learning though trial and error is reason enough.
The only wrong way to garden is not to garden at all.