Sunday, January 24, 2010

Special of the Day: Elephant


Question:"How do you eat an elephant?"
Answer: "One bite at a time."

Cleaning up the garden after a freeze is much like that. You just have to get started and keep going, steadily working towards reducing the piles of debris you've accumulated in the weeks since the freeze. You take Felcos or scissors in hand, whichever best suits the materials at hand, and you start cutting. Then you keep cutting. You'll pause periodically and wonder if you'll ever get through all of it, then go back to the job at hand after dragging one of the garden chairs over so you can sit while you work. You'll pause again and survey the slowly dwindling pile of branches, stems, twigs and leaves ... and you'll think that maybe you should make a plan for how to deal with it. Then you realize that if you just keep working, you'll get way more accomplished in the time you could spend thinking about how best to accomplish it. So you keep cutting. You'll pause when neighbors stop on their walk to ask a question about how to deal with freeze-damaged ginger plants, or quiz you on whether you think winter is done with us. Then you return to your cutting. Little by little, the piles dwindle. Where once there were four piles, now there are two. And you feel proud that instead of putting all that dead plant material in trash cans to be carted away to a landfill, you've applied the principle of mulching in place. You reflect on the fact that you'd been following that practice for a while before you read THE PERENNIAL CARE MANUAL and discovered that author Nancy J. Ondra is a firm believer in "your" method. You wonder how many other gardeners also cut their debris into small pieces and use it as mulch. You indulge in some wistful longing for an electric chipper-shredder, knowing it would save you time and energy you'd like to use elsewhere in the garden. You think ruefully of the bulbs you discovered this morning in a refrigerator drawer, out of sight and therefore out of mind. You acknowledge that you really should plant those today ... and then you do your Scarlett O'Hara imitation and tell yourself you'll do it tomorrow. After all, you've already reached the limit on the recommended daily allowance of elephant!

The photograph at the top is of the first bloom on the Violas that reseeded from last year.

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