Gardening with the Pros

In the 1955 edition of "The Winnipeg Flower Garden", Bruce Hutchison takes issue with the much advice offered by expert gardeners. His opinion is that anyone who attempts to follow the experts' advice will quickly become exhausted, confused, and frustrated in the attempt, and may just give up and move into a cozy apartment. The author then gives the following "simple rule":

"Dig a hole 10' deep, 6' long and 4' wide. Fill the bottom with perpendicular iron spikes, sharpened at the upper ends, and cover with a thin layer of quicklime. In this, plant the nearest garden expert, taking care to spread him out flat, face downward. And then, quickly fill the hole with the heaviest clay obtainable, tramping it down well and capping the top with a slab of concrete 2' thick, with a suitable inscription. After this has been done, the gardener can go safely about his business."

Although these instructions are a little sick, Hutchison makes a good point about not letting complex instructions deter you from enjoying gardening. As an example, I once planted tomatoes in soil that I didn't amend with compost or manure, I never fertilized them, and although they were an indeterminate variety, I grew them in cages and never pruned them. I then let the weeds take over while I went on vacation. In spite of all this, I had more tomatoes than we could possibly eat. 

Learning the "right" way to do things is a good idea, of course, because it helps you get the best results in your garden. But sometimes the best practises of yesteryear are not recommended today, and two equally endorsed systems may differ so widely that it is difficult to decide which way is best. In the end, you should follow the advice that your back, your enthusiasm and your budget can handle best. Gardening is as much work as you make it!

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