Monday, February 13, 2012

Relationship Rule #2 for People and Gardens: Don’t Drown them with Love

deadrose In keeping with my Love theme for Valentine’s Day week, I am expounding on some of the rules that I wrote about a few years ago in my post The 12 Relationship Rules for Gardeners. Today’s rule: There is a fine line between showering with love and smothering with love.

In human relationships, everyone likes a little attention from their romantic partner. Certainly, none of us want to be ignored. But there is a fine line when just enough can become too much. And the tricky part is, the line is different for everyone, depending on just how much attention they require to thrive.

For me, a dozen roses and a fancy dinner at an elegant restaurant is almost too much attention. I had a boyfriend who once sent me three dozen roses for Valentine’s Day and, quite frankly, I probably could have bought groceries for a few weeks with the money he spent. On the other hand, a hand-written love note and a home-cooked dinner by candle light will keep nourishing the love in my heart for months!

The same principle can certainly be applied to gardens. Over-doing almost anything in the garden is a bad thing, from water, to fertilizer, to plants themselves.

So how do we know how much is too much? We get to know each other, really well.

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of  getting to know your garden and the site conditions of your landscape. Once you know your garden, you will better understand just how much of everything it needs to thrive.

How too much attention can harm your garden:

Over watering: Over watering is usually a death sentence for plants, especially when accompanied with poor drainage. Waterlogged soils limit oxygen uptake by plant roots, which in turn affects the plant's metabolism, nutrient uptake, water absorption and photosynthesis. Over watering causes runoff, which can wash harmful chemicals from your yard into natural water supplies. Over watering also wastes water resources and reduces water supplies.

Over fertilizing: Too much fertilizer can be harmful to the lawn and plants in your landscape.  Not only can it burn a plant’s roots and make the plant more vulnerable to insects and diseases but it  may lead to water pollution through run-off or leaching of nutrients. Excess fertilizer which finds its way into waterways can cause unsightly algal blooms which reduce oxygen, often resulting in fish kills.

Pesticide Use: In my opinion, any use of chemical pesticides is too much. Pesticides are usually indiscriminate, killing the good bugs as well as the bad bugs. They can also have harmful effects for humans and other forms of garden wildlife.

Over planting: Even the practice of overcrowding a garden can be harmful to your plants. Overcrowding can cause weak growth and reduce air movement, resulting in increased insect and disease problems.

So when it comes to your relationship with your garden, don’t be an obsessive lover. Get to know what it wants and needs and then shower it with just the right amount of affection. That’s the best way to keep your relationship growing!

Gardening Symposium - March 24th-25th, 2012

The Loudoun County Master Gardeners present their Third Annual Gardening Symposium - two days packed with gardening inspiration and practical information from knowledgeable and engaging speakers. This year's line-up of speakers and topics offers something for every gardener and lover of the landscape. Network with others, pick-up new ideas and get in gear for spring. Speakers:
  • Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Professor, Department of Forestry. Virginia Tech, Remarkable Trees Two, An Update
  • Nancy Hugo , Gardener, author and lecturer, Seeing Trees
  • Chip Osborne , President, Osborne Organics LLC, Simple Steps to Organic Lawn Care
  • Mary Stickley , Manager of Gardens and Grounds, Museum of Shenandoah Valley, The Lazy Gardener
  • Donna Williamson , Garden designer, teacher, Seven Strategies for Garden Success
  • Adria Bordas , Urban Horticulturalist, Fairfax County Extension Office, IPM is Like a Green KISS for Your Garden
  • Karen Rexrode , Horticulturalist and teacher, Why Challenge Yourself?
  • Peter Deahl , Arborist, the Pruning School, Pruning Woody Plants Naturally
  • Jeffrey Pfoutz , Loudoun County Beekeepers Association, Pollination Under Pressure
  • Paul Gibson , Organic gardener, Prince William County Master Gardener, Organic Sustainable Vegetable Gardening
  • Debbie Dillion , Urban Horticulturalist, Loudoun County Extension Office, It's a Small World -- Small Fruit that is!

Prices include the conference, lunch and trade show. Lunches include vegetarian options. One day: $37.50 Two days: $65 Holiday Inn Leesburg at Carradoc Hall For more information and to register, visit the Loudon County Master Gardeners website.

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