I am not a person who is known to be cautious, and very few people who have met me would ever accuse me of being frugal. I am not timid, nor parsimonious nor stingy. Nor am I rational, prudent, sparing, or economical. If three would be nice just imagine how wonderful 30 would look or taste or smell or sound — I’m just wired this way.
I am all about bounty and plenty and armfuls instead of handfuls, so when it comes to choosing plants for my garden, I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as too many. This headset can be overwhelming at tomato picking time when I’ve snuck in seven Sungold plants instead of my allotted two, but it also means that I have a lot of bouquet options when my 1000s of bulbs come up in the spring. Of course I’m also fortunate in that I have a fairly large plot where I can work, and If I could just figure out how to kill the glechoma that is overwhelming the whole place and teach my dachshunds how to weed, I’d be set. There are very few flowering plants I don’t have in my garden, or at least haven’t tried, but last year, for some reason, the dahlias never made it out of the basement and I was dahlia free. Terrible!
If you are a closet floral arranger, as I am, you must grow dahlias. There is really no other plant that will give you so much bang for the buck for such relatively little work. So on the one rainy day we had on my recent holiday trip to the Dominican Republic (where they have poinsettia trees!!! so crazy!) I did a little damage and ordered some dahlias, 50 plus tubers actually, and since there are really no holes left in any of my existing beds, this means I also have to figure out how to create a new bed in which to grow them. And it’s going to be a big bed!
Of course, since I’ve been told by my husband in no uncertain terms, that I am going to be limited to only 3 tomato plants total, one zucchini and one cucumber, there should definitely be room in my vegetable garden for some of the dahlias. Add in that I’m forbidden to grow both beets and radishes this year, and you’d imagine that I’d have plenty of room. Frankly, I’m probably going to just fill those spots up with excessive green beans, peppers and lettuces, so I really know that there’s not that much room, and besides, I snuck in seven Knock Out roses (they were on sale for 60% off, that’s like they were free) in those eliminated extra tomato spots in the fall, so a new bed is really necessary. Did you notice the word excessive in the title of this piece?
I’m going to try to create this bed without digging, a process that normally takes two years, but I’m going to give it a shot and hope that by removing the top layer of grass and then piling on 8 inches of compost and mulch, I can create “ready to go in the spring” beds. When I dig the holes for the dahlias, I’ll definitely add compost, but right now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping. It’s basically the Ruth Scout school of gardening. Born in 1884, Ruth lived to be 96 and was all about building the soil from the top down with less work and lots of mulch, and since I have such crummy soil, I’m going to try her way. Now she said I need to get spoiled hay, which will be difficult to find I’m sure unless I can quietly sneak in to Marders late at night and dismantle last year’s hay wall — which they use to make their own compost by the way — go Marders! — and would surely miss! So I’m off to see if I can track some down, otherwise it’s going to be anything else I can find. And I’m sure Ruth would be fine with that.
Besides while I was ordering dahlias I just happened to visit a few online seed catalogues and a few places that sell plants already started as plugs, hmmm; I think I just might have to make those garden beds bigger.
Paige Patterson can make a bouquet 12 months of the year, if you’re not too picky about the definition of bouquet.