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Tips for the Compleat Gardener: From a tiny seed, new life


The world around us is in turmoil and millions, unexpectedly jobless, have to re-create their lives, change directions. This can be scary and yet liberating.

Many people have worked years at jobs they are not enjoying just because it pays the bills; joy is lacking. Now is an opportunity to bring back the joy, the pleasure of exploring who we really are.

Here are some real job opportunities that will fill your days with sun and get you in shape without the spa dues.

Consider learning how to garden. There are many landscapers but few actual gardeners who know weed from perennial, can tell which sprouted seed to thin, which to weed around.

It is only partly book-learning, mostly hands-on. An expert knows when to look something up rather than proceed guessing. I have worked with graduates with horticultural degrees who think they know a lot and pull out valued specimens in their ignorance.

Find a gardener and apprentice for a while. There is no lack of work for a knowledgeable gardener and this is true all over the country so share the tip with friends in other places. Make a living in the company of birdsong and sunshine.

Fortunately more and more people are choosing organic products and natural solutions for pests and weeds, realizing finally that pesticides don’t know when to stop killing, so your exposure to less desirable elements can be limited. I practice organic gardening techniques, always have, and none of my gardens have a pest problem.

Another garden opportunity with less knowledge necessary is the actual building of vegetable gardens for people who have land but lack time or ability. When the land thaws for spring, an installer with forethought will have a list of gardens to install. My own mother in her 80s learned about “square foot gardening” having a four-foot by four-foot raised garden installed, a manageable size for even older folks, from which she harvested a variety of vegetables through the season.

To create a larger vegetable bed for a customer, first visit the site and ascertain the sun’s position at several times of the day (or have the customer keep a log) and determine what size garden is appropriate for that customer.

The customer may want raised beds with grass paths wide enough to be mown or may want an area completely desodded with mulched lanes between the rows. The customer may want your future services as a weeder.

Fencing will be necessary so go and get prices for materials now and figure out a per square foot cost for fence installation, including a gate. Have options for posts, wood or metal.

Raised garden beds in the vegetable garden can be made of recycled plastic boards. Pre-made corners are available to make installation easy. Fill the beds with compost, not screened topsoil. An increasing number of nurseries are offering a loamy garden mix by the yard.

Plan to rent a desodder for the creation of large beds because it saves lots of time and labor and the resulting sod can be used to patch other lawns. Till in a load of well-rotted manure (which most farmers are glad to get rid of) and use newspaper topped with straw to create weed-free attractive paths.

Work out a plan that matches the household needs in terms of vegetables and herbs most desired, planting and harvest times. Make sure water is available onsite. To set up a soaker hose on a timer is really simple. Timers are available at the hardware store with directions, as is the hose which should be installed when the garden is created. This effort will ensure success.

To create these jobs in your life you only need a few hand tools and a nearby library or the internet access for questions.

Good luck and happy new life.