Gardening

Is gardening losing its luster? Try these tips to rekindle your interest.

If I remember anything from the many unsuccessful years of trying to learn French in school, the word for what many Alaska gardeners are feeling right now is “ennui.” This simply means you are not feeling the excitement of gardening. I know you did when outdoor planting began. Gardening was all-consuming in late May and into June.

I suppose this is understandable. After all, gardening is not the only hobby that captivates the attention of Alaskans. When the salmon are running, for example, it is pretty easy for some of us to drop our hoes, so to speak and run ourselves to favorite fishing spots. And then there is the time we need to spend this time of year with visitors, showing them around and justifying our living here.

Please don’t let the word “boredom” stay in your summer horticultural vocabulary. It is just fine to fish or sail or travel, just don’t take it out on your gardens. After all, when the silvers are not running and Uncle Bob and Aunt Sally are back on their tour boat, your gardens will still be here to entertain you.

So, snap out of it.

Bored or not, please don’t neglect to water when the yard becomes dry. You spent a bunch of time and money getting your plants into the ground and containers. Don’t waste all of this just because your interest level has gone down. Surely you can spend 5 to 10 minutes every three days watering.

I hope readers are using mulch to reduce weeds and the frequency of watering. There is always a need this time of year to pull enough of the chickweed so that your vegetables and shorter flowers are not overrun by the stuff. You don’t have to get it all. There is no easier time to pull chickweed given its size. Plus, they are in flower and bored or not, you don’t want them to go to seed.

It could be you simply need some new garden scenery to rekindle your yardening interest. In that case, consider putting a pattern in your lawn. If you are new to the practice, mow circles around all your trees or do a squiggly mow up and down the yard. It doesn’t take any longer and if you pay attention, you won’t be bored but rather an artist.

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Some folks like to fight off garden ennui by taking out the weed eater and getting a bit aggressive. The weeds, such as butter and eggs, are thick up against out buildings, fences, swing sets and garden walls. It can be pretty satisfying taking them down, not quite the thrill of landing a big silver, but not so bad at all.

Then, too, there is nothing like harvesting raspberries and now they are here. I used to think it was a pretty boring job when my mom made me do it with my brothers, but now that I am the boss (and they are not around to throw berries at me), getting a cup or two for dessert or breakfast is a real joy.

I suppose if you were so excited about starting off at the beginning of the season and now have lost that lively feeling, you could actually start plants again. A new crop of lettuces, short-season carrots, snap peas and even some broccoli should make it to harvest. Just pretend it is late May. We have had long enough seasons lately to be able to expect to harvest these before a killing frost.

Of course, you could always get excited about your upcoming visitors and “get into” making the yard look better. Do a bit of weed eating, mow a nice pattern into the lawn and throw down a bit of mulch to keep the weeds at bay? This is called fishing for compliments on how great your yard looks.

And if you are a real fisherman, fish parts from cleaning salmon and halibut can make some great microbe food. We used to bury fish under rose bushes. If you are not worried about bears, bury your “cleanings” in an unused part of a flower or vegetable garden. It is a great way to come back to gardening after you develop fishing ennui.

Jeff’s Alaskan Garden Calendar

Alaska Botanical Garden: Story time and yoga? Check out www.alaskabg.org.

Deadheading: Taking spent flowers off plants usually encourages new flowers to develop.

Mushrooms: ‘Tis the start of the main season. You might want to invest in a good mushroom ID book.

Butter and Eggs: They are up and setting buds. Take them out before seeds mature.

Jeff Lowenfels | Alaska gardening and growing

Jeff Lowenfels has written a weekly gardening column for the ADN for more than 45 years. His columns won the 2022 gold medal at the Garden Communicators International conference. He’s authored several books on organic gardening, and his latest book, "Teaming With Bacteria," is available on Amazon. Reach him at jefflowenfels@gmail.com.

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