Gardening ABCs

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.