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Got dirty in 2010; will get dirtier in 2011

By Laurena Mayne Davis

Penny Stine, queen bee of the Let’s Get Dirty bloggers, asked us to reflect on our gardening efforts from this season and write about what we plan to do differently in 2011.

As I was yanking out stubborn tomato stumps over the weekend, I outlined a three-prong approach. We’ll use the pitchfork in Grant Wood’s 1930 “American Gothic” for illustration purposes:

(Did you know the farmer was modeled after Wood’s dentist and the woman — spinster daughter? younger wife? It's a matter of some debate — after Wood’s sister? Lots of interesting background available at the Art Institute of Chicago, if you’re curious.)

Prong One: Soil. I will make it better for the plants’ sake and at the weeds’ expense.  I mulch with straw and wood chips; I will mulch more. I compost now; I will compost more. 

Prong Two: Commitment. After a dozen years of gardening at this house, I’m finally ready to commit to perennials. Heretofore I moved things around every year and disked up the entire plot every fall. Now I’m ready to stand down on disking in some areas for a permanent home for rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries.

Prong Three: Watering. This is related to my commitment-phobia of the previous entry. Disking doesn’t work with water lines. I’ve had open ditches. I’ve had sprinklers, and I’m tired of slogging through the mud and dragging around 100-foot hoses. There will be pop-ups. There will be drip lines. There will be the breaking of this news to my handyman husband sometime soon.   

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