Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mommy, I Don't Want You to be a Writer

The title of this blog almost sounds like a bad Country Western song. However, you know you are spending a lot of time on-line or writing when your seven-year old son looks at you one night and says: "I want you to come outside and stop working on the computer all the time!" (This is a month, I should point out, that has been the wettest, coldest May on record in New England--that said, there have been a few good "outdoor" days...I've just chosen to avoid them.) So I answered Henry in more of an attempt at justification than anything else: "I know I spend a lot of time in my office but I'm writing a lot or trying to."

"I don't want you to be a writer."

He does have a point. The gardens and empty pots are waiting for something to be put in them. Memorial Day Weekend looms as do the ever-present laundry piles. But I felt what he said more deeply. I do need to regulate my time writing and balance it with things like household stuff and gardening and more quality time with my children. This is the season to be outside and I should embrace it. Besides, have laptop will travel. I've been wanting to plug it in out on our patio while the kids play outside...but that will have to wait until the tomatoes are planted and garden beds tended and mulched and black flies have gone again.

Unfortunately, I am not the kind of mother or writer who can schedule things very well and then regiment myself. I can work around a school schedule, which I often do with our kids, but my ideas and inspirations are not limited to 9am-1pm. So, like Emily Dickinson and her pantry poems (see EMILY'S DICKINSON's PANTRY, in April 2005 Archives, at right), I write snippets of things here and there when I'm doing other things, like working in the kitchen. Call it "domestic multi-tasking".

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One of the many advantages of growing perennials is the ability of these beautiful flowers to return to full bloom season after season. While this ability to bloom repeatedly is one of the things that makes perennials so special, it also introduces a number of important factors into your gardening plan. One of the most important of these is a proper pest control regimen.

While a garden full of annuals starts each season as a blank slate, the perennial garden is essentially a work in progress. The fact that the plants stay in the ground through winter makes things like proper pruning, disease management and pest control very important. If the garden bed is not prepared properly after the current growing season, chances are the quality of the blooms will suffer when the next season rolls around.

One of the most important factors to a successful perennial pest control regimen is the attention and vigilance of the gardener. As the gardener, you are in the best position to notice any changes in the garden, such as spots on the leaves, holes in the leaves, or damage to the stems. Any one of these could indicate a problem such as pest infestation or a disease outbreak.

It is important to nip any such problem in the bud, since a disease outbreak or pest infestation can easily spread to take over an entire garden. Fortunately for the gardener, there are a number of effective methods for controlling both common pests and frequently seen plant diseases.

Some of these methods are chemical in nature, such as insecticides and fungicides, while others are more natural, like using beneficial insects to control harmful ones. While both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, many gardeners prefer to try the natural approach first, both for the health of the garden and the environment.

There is an additional benefit of the natural approach that many gardeners are unaware of. These days, it is very popular to combine a koi pond with a garden, for a soothing, relaxing environment. If you do plan to incorporate some type of fish pond into your garden landscape, it is critical to avoid using any type of insecticide or fungicide near the pond, since it could seep into the water and poison the fish. Fish are extremely sensitive to chemicals in the environment, especially with a closed environment like a pond.

As with any health issue, for people or plants, prevention is the best strategy to disease control and pest control alike. The best defense for the gardener is to grow a garden full of the healthiest, most vigorous plants possible. Whenever possible, varieties of plants bred to be disease or pest resistant should be used. There are a number of perennials that, through selective breeding, are quite resistant to the most common plant diseases, so it is a good idea to seek them out.

Happy gardening,
Stan
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