A Practice Garden
by Jarad Johnson
This spring, I decided to get a little hands on experience with gardening. I went a little overboard. But only a little.
Monty Don once said, “It doesn’t matter how much you read or how much you study, nothing beats a lifetime of experience.” I think this is very true, and it’s something I decided to apply when I became interested (my mother says obsessed, but I think this is too harsh) in gardening. Besides my desire to be active in a garden rather than reading about it, I was eager to learn by doing. So, I did, and last winter I planned out several flower beds and one bed for vegetables, and I went a little crazy buying seeds. I couldn’t wait to get home for spring break to start all of my seeds, and as soon as the term was over, I busily went to work removing sod with a shovel and planting seeds, flowers and vegetables. For the first three months of the summer, I was watering all five beds with a two-gallon watering can, and it took almost an hour. Suffice it to say, I have never had the appreciation for a garden hose that I have now.
My whole goal was for this to be what I called, “The Practice Garden.” The purpose was to try anything, see what worked and what didn’t. To discover what plants did well where, and to just generally get experience. I discovered how to thin seedlings, how to loosen heavy soil, and how to kill lavender. Twice, in fact. Learning how to keep weeds at bay was one of the biggest lessons. I have to go out and weed every week otherwise I’m overrun.
Designing the color scheme of the beds is something I’ve been focused on lately. I’ve discovered what colors I like in the garden and which I could do without. I tend to like very dark or neutral colors. I love anything spikey, like foxgloves or larkspur. And I discovered that my garden beds need to be widened, to make more of an impact. And to make room for the plants (my cosmos have covered the sidewalk). I underestimated how much room the plants needed to grow. Of course, I have plans for more garden beds, around seven actually, along with widening the existing ones.
So, I have discovered that Monty was right- nothing beats experience in the garden, and I have learned quite a bit. I’m very glad that I have taken the time to create my practice garden, and it’s given me a lot of useful knowledge that I can apply to other gardens in the future.
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!