How to Improve Your Garden in One Day

garden butterfly net

I’m thinking of starting a workshop for gardeners who are feeling less than confident about their growing skills, and here is a sneak peak at some of the steps toward quickly improving your garden that I am planning to cover:

1)  Drive to Minister Hill
2)  Use supplied hedge clippers to chop latest canes from the raspberry bush from hell that has volunteered to guard the garden gate, allowing only bears and chipmunks to pass unscathed.
3)  Stay on the garden paths to avoid being attacked by tomato plants that refuse to cooperate with this year’s homage to vertical gardening.  Take note of heavy reliance on completely recycled and fruitless efforts, including stakes and leaves to tie things together ‘naturally’.
4) This is a hands-on workshop, and participants will be asked to choose a sixpack of dried-up, neglected veggie starts to plant at the end of the hour, if there’s time.
5) If you notice a weed that seems like it would look better in the rusting wheelbarrow, by all means, pull it.  Do not fight the urge to pull just one more – there are enough for every participant.
6) The workshop garden is a work in progress which means all participants will have the chance to spend $25 on more veggie starts to neglect while they plan their next move.
7) Dig up established perennial vegetables and place in bucket for replanting after new garden design is confirmed.
8) At the forty-five minute mark there will be a thirty minute TV break.
9) Depending on the month, take another walk out to the garden to pick the sole cherry tomato or head of lettuce as a souvenir to take home.
10) Drive Home and take a fresh look at your own garden and note how much more organized it suddenly seems.  

If currently in therapy for any sort of depression or feelings of inadequacy, send money you would have spent on this week’s session to your Picking My Battles Gardening instructor or to her power of attorney, should her family succeed in having her committed to the nearest psychiatric center for the treatment of scatterbrained gardeners.



Mindless over Manners


Most Sundays we head to Bob’s Diner in Manchester to fuel up before gardening and woodstacking.  I’ll go write at a nearby cafe for a few hours, and when the kids wake up, the Big Guy will phone to say they’re leaving.  I usually get there first and, after getting our name on the wait list (there’s always a wait),  I claim the privilege of taking the seat with a view of the door.

I have a strong aversion to sitting with my back to  the door in any public place.  probably the result of being on the receiving end of a home invasion and relying on heavy doses of televison to manage the PTSD that followed(any fictional commando or special ops expert will tell you to keep your eye on the door).   For some reason, I harbor a deep need to be able to wave at a hypothetical incoming armed assailant before I kiss my kids and my butt goodbye.

Thing1 and Thing2 trade off sitting next to Mom.  The need to sit next to Mommy only emerges when we’re in a restaurant, but it’s pathological.  If we only go out to eat once a week, it’s pretty easy to keep track, but if we’ve had a busy week of museums and diners and cafes, I forget where we are in the rotation.

Last Sunday was one of those days and, predictably, the debate over who got to set next to Mom threatened to get them driven home without breakfast (a threat we have not had to carry out in several years but still keep in our arsenal).  Finally, deeming it way too early in the day to be brokering peace treaties, I issued sanctions against both parties and announced that I was sitting with the Big Guy.  The Big Guy had already arranged himself with his back to the door.

I ignored the annoyed faces of my children and snuggled into the seat next to my husband, no longer worried about not seeing whatever might come through the door while we ate our pancakes.   The fragile detente in front of us – strained by the appearance of cups of chocolate milk just waiting to be knocked over during a bilateral shove or a poke – was way scarier than any imaginary maniac I could possibly imagine.