knowing when is when

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

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(the spent and deadheaded geraniums / Julie Cook / 2014)

I probably would never make a very good farmer, master gardener and I’m now worried about my becoming a small potatoes chicken farmer, but more about that later.

“Huh?”, you shrug.

You know the whole mindset of cutting away in order to make way for bigger and better–well that’s a tough call for me. It’s the fine art of knowing when is when.

Now I can do the whole deadheading thing—as in when a flower is spent and fading fast, wisdom tells us to cut away the dead and dying in order to promote more growth and flowering.
That one is a no brainer.

However when it comes to pruning a tree or shrub, a tree or shrub that is by all accounts healthy and happy, that’s when things start to merge over to the grey side of decision making.

I totally get the whole symmetry thing, as I’m all about some symmetry, but when faced with the proposition of cutting away this or that healthy branch in order to foster taller growth or to prevent future troubles, as in falling limbs, etc— that’s when and where things start to get dicy.

Add to that the seedling issue of a garden and I’m toast.

The instructions on the packet read:
Plant 4 to 8 seeds in hill (I’ve never understood the whole hill thing, but I mound hills up every year– God forbid the one year we opted not to “hill”– the squash and zucchini were not as prolific or healthy. . .so my husband now swears by the “hill” effect)
Space hills 4 ft apart.
Thin to 3 to 4 plants per hill.
Keep fruit picked for longer production.

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Ok I more than understand the whole pick the fruits and vegetables on a timely basis concept, as that pretty much is the whole point of planting—as in picking and eating. . .but it’s this business of planting 8 seeds then pulling up, killing, destroying and throwing away 4 healthy ones—leaving 4 others to remain in the hill, which gets me.

I certainly like to think I’m a “waste not want not” kind of girl.
Is it just me or is planting double the number of seeds than one actually needs– not the most thrifty or economical plan?
I suppose one of the leading reasons for this plethora of seed planting would be whether or not all the seeds germinate. Perhaps it’s the safety in numbers concept or more like there’s a guarantee in numbers.
Or perhaps the school of thought here is for the really thrifty minded among to pull up those “throw away” seedlings and replant them on a new mound. But who has time or room for that added adventure? All my “hills” are full.

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(we had a real gully washer night before last so our soil is saturated / these are the squash seedlings, with 4 unsuspecting little ones waiting for their preselected death)

This year I even tried my hand at planting tiny seeds in tiny little starter cups. Look at all those future carrots—who by the way were also soaked by the torrential downpour from the heavens above—Which just may mean that all little carrots, leeks and red swiss chard may have drowned, saving me from the decision of deciding who stays and grows or who goes to the compost grave.

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I think it all must boil down to some sort of predisposed decision making, sans emotional attachment, process that I failed to receive at inception. I cannot for the life of me not feel badly or torn for the seedlings I choose to discard. My mind races with thoughts of how the little plants could / would grow into beautiful plants with succulent vegetables. How could I ever choose who lives or who dies—I’m certainly no Caesar with that whole thumbs up thumbs down sort of thing.

Happily I acquiesce the painful duty of plant selection to my more cold blooded husband. Without a single thought or agonizing internal argument, he simply bends down and plucks and plucks until the proper healthy number of plants remains. No real thought process or internal struggle or personal dilemma on his part—just merely pulling up a couple of extra plants here and there.

The moral of this little tale, which we are all now wondering and hoping will come to light. . .would be that some of us have an innate sorting ability while others of us–not so much. As Leonardo has so aptly reminded us. . . it’s not enough that we “know” what must be done, the important matter is that we must apply that knowledge, we must do what it is that we know we must do.
It is the action side of knowledge that is important.
And as far as gardening is concerned, that can be a matter of life and death—-oh dear, even writing that down has me torn.
No matter, for if you’ll excuse me, I must go pull weeds. I’ve certainly got no problem there.
I can pluck and toss a weed any ol day.
Happy weeding!

2 comments on “knowing when is when

  1. Hey Julie! Wow you must have a lot of geraniums to get a bucket full of old blooms!! Debbie loves growing geraniums but this year she has cut it down to only 3 planters. The rain will do a number of small seedling but they will come back with some TLC and sunshine! I can’t wait to see pictures of your garden and all the vegetables come summer! 🙂

    • If I can keep the deer out, we should have an abundant crop this year of all sorts of goodies. I fear I may have gone over board on beans however—but luckily for me, we cut way back on the corn. Just two varieties this year verses the 6 from last summer!! There’s still corn in the freezer!
      Happy days in the yard!!

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