by Charlene Burgi
The word “discipline” conjures up all kinds of reactions. More than a few people cringe at the word, while others shirk. Some happily rise to the occasion, and others grudgingly accept what must be done. Yet, without discipline, things can quickly get out of control. At least that is my current mantra.
It seems that most of my time lately consists of disciplining the puppies. Though the process of correcting their behavior is exhausting, I must admit it has its rewards. When I now say “sit,” the two adorable little fur balls stop what they are into, sit down and look expectantly at me in wait for their puppy treats. At their young age, they have learned that effort is rewarded.
Since much of our time is spent in the garden, it is important for Sassy and Misty to understand the rules of no digging, not biting the plants, etc. During these lessons, I challenge myself to get some weeding done before the seed heads fall to the ground. This is when it dawned on me—the exercise of discipline also occurs in the garden. We all love a beautiful, well-maintained garden, and that requires setting aside time to mow, weed, prune, feed, mulch, plant, and inspect irrigation for leaks, breaks, misaligned heads or missing emitters. All these chores must be done in a timely manner.
It takes discipline to schedule these chores to keep a garden under control. There is an old adage about Mother Nature taking back what is rightfully hers. It doesn’t take long for weeds to crowd in, vines to infringe where they shouldn’t be, neglected plantings to wither and invasive plants to take over.
As I said earlier, the chores should be done in a timely manner. For the health of the plant, heavy pruning should be done in winter when the plants are dormant. A few plants, like camellias, are dormant when they are in bloom. Some fruit trees require specific types of pruning at certain times of the year to assure fruit production. And some shrubs will forego flowering if not pruned in a timely manner. For example, the reblooming iris will not rebloom in fall if the spring stems are not removed.
The irrigation should be inspected thoroughly before the system is turned on in spring. Each month, while the irrigation system is running, walk around to verify the water is being applied to the root system of your plants and not the sidewalk or neighbor’s yard. And most important is to adjust your run times to correspond to the Weekly Watering Schedule to meet the optimum water needs of your plants.
Weeds are an ongoing chore, but weeding the garden before the weeds set seed will make the job much easier in the future by preventing additional seeds from germinating. Because this task can be overwhelming, find an area to target and work that designated area before moving to the next area. Sheet mulch where you are able.
Mowing a lawn should be done weekly, while feeding plants in containers is a monthly chore. Mulching is a yearly task that I prefer doing before the summer heat to keep the plant roots cool. To this list, I personally plant vegetables by the moon, which requires knowing if the moon is in the waxing or waning phase. And the list goes on to include improving garden knowledge and exploring new ideas for the evolution of the garden.
At the end of the day, your reward, and mine, is found while gazing upon a garden that appears natural, clean and neat. The reward is also in watching people slow down to take in the beauty that was created due to your discipline for getting the job done.