UC Master Gardener of Napa County Gayle Keane gives us some great tips for comfortable gardening.....
I aim for comfort and ease while gardening. Recently I acquired some wisdom that I'd like to share as well as a few gardening tricks from a couple of gurus in the field.
At the recent statewide Master Gardeners Conference, I attended a talk entitled “You Can Garden for Life with Adaptive Gardening.” The presenter was long-time Master Gardener Toni Gatonne. I also attended Kirk Brown's session on “LandEscape: Plan a Low Maintenance – High Enjoyment Garden!” And, yes, there is an extra “e” in landscape. Brown teaches classes for the National Garden Club's Landscape Design Schools.
I suspect the reason these talks appealed to me is my feeling that my own garden has become more of a burden than I want. Both Gatonne and Brown emphasized the importance of deciding what brings you joy. Notice what makes your heart sing in your garden and let go of everything else.
No one wants to see a list of “to do” projects whenever they enter the garden. When you feel like you are puttering instead of doing chores, you'll enjoy gardening much more. Simplify your garden. Let it reflect what you like to do.
Think about making gardening sustainable for your body. Prevent pulled and aching muscles by stretching, dancing or doing yoga before you begin gardening.
I tend to drift from one garden task to another rather than making a plan. Now I'll try a different approach. I will stop all-day gardening and work for 60 to 90 minutes then take a break.
My mantra these days comes from Gatonne: Done is better than perfect. Of course, I always try to do the job right, but what a relief to realize that perfection is not the only choice. I let go and allow myself to enjoy my efforts.
Have you seen the garden gloves that have plastic claws on their tips? These so-called badger gloves make it easy to dig around plants and they save your fingernails. They also eliminate the worn-out fingertips on garden gloves. These gloves changed my life.
I also had no idea that there are easy-grip garden tools that keep your wrist in a neutral position. Developed for gardeners dealing with arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome, they can prevent injuries for everyone. You can also buy grips and arm cuffs to adapt tools you already own.
Although I haven't seen these items at my local garden centers or nurseries, I think it's worth asking about them. You can find them online by searching for “easy-grip garden tools” or “ergonomic garden tools.”
I get a great deal of joy from harvesting my own vegetables. However, that doesn't mean I need to plant row upon row of them. Figure out what you and your family can actually use and grow just that amount, even if it's only one or two plants.
Consider incorporating vegetables into your landscape instead of relegating them to separate beds. Pollinators are more likely to find them then. Cabbages make stunning borders, and tomatoes grown over an arbor are easy to harvest.
To save your back and knees, minimize your ups and downs. Do all your standing tasks, then get down on your knees for the rest.
You are using a cushion or knee pads, aren't you? I have a kneeler I love that I can both sit on and flip over to kneel on. Gatonne suggests this smart no-bending method for planting seeds: Cut a piece of PVC pipe diagonally at one end. Drag the cut end over the soil to make a furrow, then drop seeds down the tube to plant.
Consider replacing high-maintenance annual flowers with perennial shrubs or trees that don't need replacing each year. Hydrangea panniculata, crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and blueberry bushes (Vaccinium corymbosum) can provide seasonal color and interest all year with little effort on your part. Group plants with similar water needs to simplify your life. And simplifying your life should add more joy to your gardening.
Master Gardeners are volunteers who help the University of California reach the gardening public with home gardening information. U. C. Master Gardeners of Napa County ( http://ucanr.edu/ucmgnapa/) are available to answer gardening questions in person or by phone, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to Noon, at the U. C. Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143, or from outside City of Napa toll-free at 877-279-3065. Or e-mail your garden questions by following the guidelines on our web site. Click on Napa, then on Have Garden Questions? Find us on Facebook under UC Master Gardeners of Napa County.