Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Gardening ABCs

It's good to be reminded of gardening basics once in a while, and last week Jeff Clarke did an able job of it at a workshop at Camden Children's Garden. He emphasized that even "experts" make mistakes and have failures. That's reassuring for people who are terrified of making a mistake. The beauty of gardening is that even if you kill something, you can always replace it or try something else. No big deal. This Friday, I'll be doing a story on Jeff and his sensible approach to vegetable gardening, which is timely. Seed sales this spring are way up; the interest in growing vegetables hasn't been this high since the early 2000's and I think a lot of people are interested for the right reasons. But it seems unfair to me that they're being told by those with much to gain that a minor investment in seeds will produce hundreds of dollars worth of fresh produce, seemingly just like that. Gardening is work. If you're a novice, there are certain things - lettuce, carrots, radishes, for ex. - that are easy to grow from seed. But at least to start, I'd buy seedlings for other stuff. Jeff suggests forgoing the romantic notion of a gigantic garden and starting small. Small is manageable. Small will have enough weeds, believe me. You can always trade up.

Gardening ABCs

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)
Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

It's good to be reminded of gardening basics once in a while, and last week Jeff Clarke did an able job of it at a workshop at Camden Children's Garden. He emphasized that even "experts" make mistakes and have failures. That's reassuring for people who are terrified of making a mistake. The beauty of gardening is that even if you kill something, you can always replace it or try something else. No big deal. This Friday, I'll be doing a story on Jeff and his sensible approach to vegetable gardening, which is timely. Seed sales this spring are way up; the interest in growing vegetables hasn't been this high since the early 2000's and I think a lot of people are interested for the right reasons. But it seems unfair to me that they're being told by those with much to gain that a minor investment in seeds will produce hundreds of dollars worth of fresh produce, seemingly just like that. Gardening is work. If you're a novice, there are certain things - lettuce, carrots, radishes, for ex. - that are easy to grow from seed. But at least to start, I'd buy seedlings for other stuff. Jeff suggests forgoing the romantic notion of a gigantic garden and starting small. Small is manageable. Small will have enough weeds, believe me. You can always trade up.

About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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