Yep, that’s right. I confess. Despite my love of gardening, I am a lazy gardener. As much as I may occasionally envy the cleanly edged, regimented rows of perfect vegetables and fastidiously tended flowers and fruit trees, I just cannot do it. Despite this, my garden still does fairly well and at times, produces more fresh harvest than we can use which means we get to share.
Why am I a lazy gardener? There is no single reason (besides outright laziness) - rather it is a cluster of reasons. After pondering this for a little bit, this are the reasons that sprang to mind.
Six Valid Reasons For Being A Lazy Gardener
- Reason number one: Pleasure ensures the activity is repeated. I have a short attention span and get both bored and side tracked by a multitude of interesting activities and subjects. A shortcoming I wish I didn’t have. At least, I always, without fail, come back to gardening chores. Although, I hesitate to call them chores as they bring so much pleasure and that is the most important aspect.
- Reason number two: Gardens do not need to be tended in a time consuming exacting manner in order to be beautiful or productive. Nature is untidy. Plants invade each other’s space and coexist as a glorious random and intricate whole. Nowhere do you see straight lines of plants, clipped edges, or topiary plants. What is with the human obsession to control things to the nth degree? Is it really so scary to just let things be? Sometimes we just need to get out of nature’s way. Of course, this is not to say that gardens do not need tending. I have an aversion to highly regimented, clipped and controlled within an inch of their life gardens. The way plants overlap and nestle against each other provides a pleasing green vista that softens or compliments manmade objects.
- Reason number three: Nothing is easier to grow than a self-sown vegetable. They seem to be more resilient and they take absolutely no effort on a gardener’s part to get established. I admire the life spark and independence of the anarchistic self-sown plant. Brassicas, celery, dill, tomatoes, parsley, nasturtiums and herb robert sprout up all over the place in my garden. Sometimes I transplant them into a more convenient location but more often than not, leave them be. I hate mowing over the opportunistic renegades that have foolishly germinated in the lawn. Sometimes I am kind and transplant them into the garden and other times I sadly mow over them. This reason reminds me of a hairdresser who was so over his weedy garden that one day, in angry exasperation, he decided to mow it into obscurity. There, problem solved. No more garden to have to weed!
The strawberries kept spreading their runners into the open rainwater drain (from our roof) and cracks in the cement in the patio next to the garden so I got tired of removing them and let them be – see image above. The plants have rewarded us with loads of juicy red strawberries this season and so far the impact on the fresh rainwater drainage is insignificant. Yes, this would upset someone who has to have everything ‘in its place’ but since it is causing no harm the strawberries can stay.
Last spring I foolishly (or not) allowed a self sown JAP pumpkin to grow. It hogged three vegetable garden beds, a corner of the ornamental garden, climbed up the frangipani tree and scrambled over the fence to invade the neighbour’s lawn. This meant that weeding the invaded garden beds was impossible without damaging the pumpkin vine. Not very convenient. A bit of judicious pruning was required to prevent it overtaking the rest of the garden. After waiting for what seemed an eternity for the winter die back to occur, the neighbour, our extended family and we enjoyed super sweet scrumdilumptious pumpkins. There are still a couple of pumpkins downstairs awaiting consumption.
Weeds are an exception to the above admiration – although there is a grudging respect for their adaptability, toughness and their unquenchable Darwinian survival of the toughest characteristic. I try to find out what a weed is good for before denouncing it completely. Many weeds can be very useful as pioneer plants, mineral and nutrient miners, mulches, early warning signals or as decoy plants for pests. There is much pleasure to be had from stashing the most rebellious ‘horror’ weeds into a garbage can filled with water until they rot and then watering the garden with the resulting nutrient rich water. Revenge!
- Reason number four: Untidy gardens provide a place of refuge and habitat for beneficial insects, lizards and birds. These are the unpaid, no effort garden helpers. Gardens clipped and sprayed with pesticides and herbicides will significantly reduce these valuable life forms.
Reason number five: By carefully observing what unfolds instead of forcing everything to obey your wishes lessons are learnt on what works or survives. For example, the nasturtiums were rampantly taking over a patch of garden. I was thinking about removing them entirely as I do not like their peppery flavour. However, it became obvious that they attracted the white cabbage moth away from the brassicas. Of course the brassicas still needed protecting but as long as the nasturtiums were controlled they were still a valuable asset to have in the garden. Another example is that by leaving a few milk or sow thistles in the garden, they act as a ‘sentinel’ plant which give an early warning sign of the arrival of aphids in the garden.
- Reason number six: It is just plain, straight out, less work. Period. That is unless plants are neglected for too long and issues are not dealt with while they are minor. Leaving weeds, pruning, diseases, pests etc for too long will actually result in more work. We don’t want that now do we? Or plants that are not suited to the conditions in your area. If it is too much work or its requirements are too finicky out it comes. Better to dedicate the space to something that gives more than it takes.
So, there you have it. Confession and justifications are out into the open. There are sure to be more reasons however these are the ones that resonate and influence my laziness. The garden should be a source of inspiration and joy, not one of drudgery ruled by ‘shoulds’, ‘have tos’ and ‘don’t wannas’. Of course, my garden could be improved with more activity, but life is short and so is my attention span. Now that the justifications seem so valid, I propose a toast; “All hail the Lazy Gardener!”