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It’s Spring, Already


Where does the time go? Seems like nano-seconds since I gave up on my overgrown, drought and heat-ravaged mess of a garden in the fall, planted a white flag in the shriveled remains of a tomato plant in a dried up container and screamed to anyone who would listen (mostly squirrels and birds), “It’s yours! You own it! Do your worst. Dig up some bulbs. Go ahead, leave some foxhole-sized divots in the lawn. Knock yourselves out! Go on, sparrows, poop all over everything. Here, I’m putting out an extra lawn chair for just that purpose! Should I leave my bicycle out here, too? You want that, too? Huh? I don’t care! I quit. I resign. I abdicate. I bifurcate. I conjugate! I’ll be back in the spring. Or summer. Or in 2017. Maybe. Don’t hold your breath because… because… there’s nothing weirder than a blue squirrel.”

And with that, I walked into the house and rather animatedly rearranged all of my ties by date of purchase.
Flash forward five months or so.

Here we are. Spring. Yup. Spring.

Again.

Uh-yup.

And you know what? Gosh darn it, this time I am renewed. I am imbued. I am askewed, as I face the daunting, oppressive, suffocating, stifling and positively stultifying challenges of the coming gardening season. But enough with the cheerleading.

I have a goal this year, which, frankly, is to get all gardeners to think like me. Yes: Just. Like. Me. Imagine how I could transform horticulture. For instance, compare my philosophies to the “positive” garden gurus (and I use the word “positive” in quotes… wait… you can see the quotations… uh, never mind).

Positive Garden Guru Rule #1: Always try something new.
Mike Nowak Garden Rule #1: Try something really new.

For instance, hire your auto mechanic to design your garden. Now, c’mon, don’t get all skeptical on me. Do you really know what is in the heart and soul of your auto mechanic? I think not. There might be a Jens Jensen hiding under the hood, just waiting to be set free. Come to think of it, I believe my old lawn mower was Jens Jensen powered. Don’t quote me on that.

Positive Garden Guru Rule #2: Shed your pride and continually ask questions.
Mike Nowak Garden Rule #2: Yes, always ask questions, but make sure that you ask the right questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Am I going to hurt myself?
  • Who can I find to dig this hole for me?
  • Do I need a break yet?
  • Who can I find to shlep this bag of mulch for me?
  • Is my neighbor watching me?
  • Why? (Or why not?)
  • Where’s the merlot?
  • Why can’t I find the merlot?
  • Did I forget to buy the merlot?

You can see why you need to ask questions.

Positive Garden Guru Rule #3: Do not blame yourself if things go awry.
Mike Nowak Garden Rule #3: Absolutely Do not blame yourself. Instead, blame your spouse, your kids, your neighbors, your BFF, your boss, the mayor, the governor and, ultimately, the President. Of the United States, of course. All of them are more responsible for your failures than you are. Trust me — you need this release valve.

If blaming people doesn’t work, blame…

  • the weather
  • the box store where you bought your plants
  • that same box store, even if you bought the plants at your neighborhood independent garden center
  • did I mention the weather?
  • squirrels
  • the independent garden center, especially if you bought your plants at a box store
  • the weather was really rotten this year–did that have something to do with it?

Got it? Are we ready to go?

All right! Let’s celebrate!

Where’s the merlot? Why can’t I find the merlot?

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questions

We are first-time gardeners and have planted Brussels sprouts and green and red cabbage that we are trying to grow organically. There are black egg sacs and small green worms eating the leaves. Is there an organic product we can use on the cabbage?

Is there a best time to plant tulips? I see them at the garden centers in late summer but I am afraid that it is too early to plant them. If I wait too long, I might forget all about them.

What does it take to make a climbing hydrangea flower? Ours was planted 3 years ago and is growing energetically. It’s in a protected nook near the patio and gets very little direct sunlight, but doesn’t act sun starved. We gave it a shot of slow release fertilizer on planting, and once since. Somewhat inadvertently it gets plenty of water, since the hose spigot is nearby and leaks, but drainage does not seem to be the problem. It now fully occupies an 8-foot trellis but shows no interest in flowering. Is it youth, lack of sun, too much or too little fertilizer, bugs, lack of pruning or what? When do these plants bloom and what conditions do they like?

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