Gardening By Doing Nothing

70  bar steady 30.01  2mph NEE dew-point 47  sunrise 6:26  sunset 8:05

Last Quarter of the Corn Moon   moonrise 2306   moonset 1138

While dividing the iris rhizomes this morning, the air was cool and the sun shifted in the sky enough that I can see the change.  These are fall moments for me, working on perennials and the garden, either planting or preparing to plant.  A couple of years ago in September I planted daffodils on a cool, but bright Saturday afternoon.  The pep band from Andover High School practiced for a football game that evening.  The marches and rousers drifted over to our back property, the aural equivalent of falling leaves.

The rhizomes I dug up both in the raised bed out back and in the second tier perennial bed beside our downstairs patio had no soft rot, no sign of iris borer infestation.  This means the clean-up in the fall and spring, coupled with the early doses of cygon, have created an ideal environment for them.  This makes me feel good, competent.   In this garden a healthy plant has superiority over a beautiful plant.  Of course, both have their place, but a healthy plant means a plant that has found a spot where it feels comfortable, the right amount of sun, the right neighbors, the right soil nutrients.  A healthy plant overtime produces more healthy plants, so plant health oriented gardening fills up the landscape with homegrown brothers and sisters, clones.  It is also true that to my eye a healthy plant is a beautiful plant, so I do not choose between the two.

This is not to say we get no disease or infestations.  We do.  The spaghetti squash had an ugly horde of gray bugs that looked like giant ticks.  Yuck.  I removed the leaf and stepped on them.  In general, I do not kill bugs, even pests, out of respect for life and its varying forms.  In the case, though, of insects or diseases that harm plants, I will selectively kill.  Most plants, even vegetables, can take an enormous amount of damage and still produce blooms, leaves and fruit, so I do not arbitrarily destroy and I almost never use chemicals.  The cygon for iris borers is an exception.

This also means, by the way, that a healthy plant may have a few holes in its leaves, even attacks of black spot on the leaves, as our Cherokee Purple tomato have right now.  If however, the plant has no difficulty growing and fruiting, I may only pluck off leaves, or do nothing.  Since a plant can thrive even with substantial leaf damage, doing nothing covers most instances.  I prefer doing nothing.

Gardening by doing nothing.  Often, very satisfying results come from doing nothing.  When we first moved in there was a single mangy cedar about 20 feet outside our backdoor.   Since I cut down many black locust trees around it, I could have cut it down, too, but I chose to build a small garden bed around it and leave it alone.  Fourteen years later it is a beautiful signature plant as you look out the back sliding doors.  There are three oaks, close neighbors, that I also left alone.  They, too, have grown into fine young trees, maybe 30 feet tall.  We also have an ash in the park, again, a tree about which I did nothing, except put a garden bed around it.  It now has a prominent spot in the park where we have our raised beds.  It is the biggest plant.

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