The Naked Gardener

August 27, 2009

You ask, what does this title have to do with writing?  Quite a bit actually.  I have reason to believe that I am not the only writer that needs long breaks between writing frenzies to recharge my batteries, my writing, and my soul.  What helps me a great deal toward this goal is my avid gardening interest.

Cool and often foggy mornings are spent indoors in my favorite writing room or managing the other affairs of life.  I spend most sunny afternoons in my garden.  I prune, dig, plant, harvest, or just breath deep of the fresh air.  My wife shares this interest in all things living.  But alas she works and has less time to work in the garden, even though she enjoys the garden immensely when she has the opportunity.

Do I garden naked?  Why, yes I do!  As often as I can.  But seldom in the fleshy sense (I shall get to that in a minute).  Gardening naked to me means that I use only organic soil conditioners, mulches, composts, and fertilizers.  Pesticides are strictly prohibited, but I employ fly and yellow-jacket wasp traps that lure these overabundant insects to their demise with attractants.  They do not pollute the earth with toxic chemicals.  I allow natural predation to keep the other insects and rodents in check.

How does the naked gardener prevent mildew, black spot, and other fungal problems on roses?  My answer to this common issue is simple.  If my rose bush suffers from  any of these ills on a continual basis, it was planted in too shady a location.  I move it into a sunnier spot during its next dormant season.  If the specimen still doesn’t improve, I yank and toss it.  I know this sounds harsh, but plants either survive, flourish, or languish in my naked garden.  The laggards do not belong here.

I am about to adopt the same strategy for my writing.  Some of my pieces merely languish or survive.  They do not flourish.  It’s time to throw out, delete, burn, or dismember those pieces.  Perhaps I’ll post them on this blog, which is the literary equivalent of throwing them to the wolves.  (Dear reader, I didn’t mean YOU of course.  I meant those other readers that criticize good writing and good writers for self-interested reasons.  I am very much interested in YOUR comments and feedback about my writing and gardening practices.)

The next time you peek through your back fence and see the fleshy, sun-starved parts of your neighbor as he leans over to yank a laggard rose from the ground, think of me and my new strategy for writing.  And celebrate the freedom of organic living!

– David.