23 September, 2008

Why We Need Professioanls in Gardening

Are Gardener’s Tired of Advice?By Greg Draiss

Autumn has arrived and soon annuals will fade into the past being replaced by the beautiful colors of fall leaves in our yards and forests. It is the season of pumpkins, mums asters and scarecrows. Autumn is the time to celebrate the harvest while planning for next years’ garden. Autumn is also the time for looking back over our gardens’ successes and failures of the current season. Did I plant those tomatoes too close together again? Why did the basil turn to seed so fast. And where are my cucumbers I know I planted in the bed next to the garage?

While fall appears to be the time of year to kick back, jump in the leaves and enjoy the cool weather in fact it is a time to get back into the swing and rhythms of life. Look too longingly at the pallette of colors in the trees and the frost on the pumpkin takes the remaining harvest you left behind. If not the frost the animals in the neighborhood will take part of your harvest for their winter storehouse without even a thank you note. The thank you note left behind by the critters in the garden will be their offspring next year they bring to forage on your grains and grape tomatoes.

Autumn in fact is a very complicated time in the world of the gardener. What is okay to plant now?What should be cut back now or wait until spring. Is it too late to plant grass seed and what do you mean I can put crabgrass preventer down in autumn?

There is a growing backlash in the garden blogosphere about garden columnists giving advice in the fall. I do not know why one particular blogger has picked fall to pick on but that is the subject of fodder on some garden blogs now that we end summer and move into the fall season. A blogger on a popular garden blog, Garden Rant, claims that garden columns aimed at the gardening public are useless as they give boring advice and are not inspiring.

While not a big deal in and of itself the comments after the post in support of the author were astounding. Almost 70% of the comments took garden columnists to task for the subject matter they provide to the gardening public.

So I ask.....are gardeners tired of advice? I admit I get tired of hearing the news on television on what to do during the inevitable summer heat wave and the contrasting cold spells in the winter. I mean do the talking heads on TV really think we do not know enough to drink more fluids in the grips of a heat wave and you can get hypothermia with a wind chill 20 below?

But I think gardening is different. There are more new gardeners every year who really do not know that fall is the best time for planting lawns, trees and perennials. While a heat wave is the same heat wave on one end of town as another your garden is not the same garden as the neighbor’s across the street. Your garden is a microclimate that is totally different than the microclimate across town in another garden. My geranium is different than yours and the sun shines differently in my yard than yours even though we may grow the same variety of basil or heirloom tomato

The microclimate in our gardens are reflections of us as gardeners as being different kinds of gardeners than the neighbor across the street. Your garden reflects your personality as an individual of the gardening community. Gardeners in a sense are microclimates themselves.

Garden center industry professionals and columnists like myself make our livelihood by answering questions and giving advice no matter how many times the same one is asked. The fact that the same questions get asked by different gardeners shows that gardening is alive and well.

Which brings me the to the underlying subject of gardening. While reading garden blogs and seeing pretty pictures of a great garden on line is a good way to get ideas it remains just that a source of information. All the desk top wall paper and screen savers of flowers will never replace the smell of dirt and the beauty of the real thing.

Why on earth then would a gardener want to spend all their gardening time on line? And why would a garden writer on a garden blog take issue with questions asked by gardeners and the information given out by garden writers?

Perhaps I surmise the answer lies in too much time watching HGTV and not enough time in the garden.

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