2017-05-17 / Here's the Scoop

Working out the bugs

The arrival of Mother’s Day can only mean one thing. Well, I guess it can mean quite a few things, but along with dinner out or purchasing plants, this annual occasion has turned into a sort of National Gardening Day. At least around here.

An avid gardener, my wife starts getting the itch for the growing season about…three months ago. That’s a bit too early. So, we wait. The talk of gardening plans is a good way of killing some time until spring, but it’s just not the same as getting one’s hands dirty and watching plants sprout. Unfortunately, in the northeast, extreme patience may be even a more vital ingredient to a successful gardening season than having proper soil.

As a general rule, Mother’s Day has long been considered a fairly safe time to get outside and do some preliminary garden preparations. While I’m not a big fan of putting in gardens (or weeding them), I do enjoy the colorful displays in the flower beds.

This could use improvement

On the other hand, during that period when the snow is gone and the beds have yet to be cleaned out, they can be pretty unsightly. I guess that’s why I secretly look forward to helping get the beds in shape for a new season. Sort of.

The problem is, over the years, our gardens have spread like…weeds. There are many. Most are pretty big. Cleaning them out is lots of work. I guess work isn’t a bad thing, but it does tend to cut into one’s time sitting on the deck, staring aimlessly into space.

So, our Mother’s Day tradition has sort of morphed into a garden bed cleanup. For some reason, this chore seems to get a bit harder each year. Hmmm. The bending, raking, pulling, clipping and cart emptying take plenty of energy. That’s to be expected.

Fly by day operation

Of course, gardening in mid-May also brings another issue: bugs. Lots and lots of bugs — far beyond the cleverly named May flies. The swarm that circled during our gardening task was more like: Anything That Does Fly. I’m not a big fan of bug repellent, but I slopped a few different potions like I was applying ketchup into a cup of Five Guys fries. Nothing worked.

Studies have indicated that bugs prefer different people because of their body type. I’m not sure what the official term is, but I’m pretty much a bug magnet. You’ve probably heard the old saying about Delaware County: “Two Stones for Every Dirt.” Well, my garden cleaning experience was pretty much “Two Swats for Every Rake.” As a result, this made the project take twice as long.

However, despite the buggy interruptions, we made pretty good progress. And, I hardly pulled out any plants that were sneakily disguised as weeds. There were a couple of trips to “weed pile” to rescue a specimens that accidentally got yanked from the ground. Far fewer than most years, though. I’m no plant expert, but I have made progress in my “good plant, bad weed” identification skills.

My motto: “When in doubt, don’t pull it out,” has served me well. Except when my wife casually comments, “I really appreciate your help, but why are you leaving so many weeds behind?” — Brian Sweeney

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