Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Boosting Gardening Efficiency

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Boosting Gardening Efficiency

Article excerpt

So far this year, I am having a heck of a time trying to save time working in the garden.

I am not trying to shirk my responsibility. I know a garden takes a lot of effort, but I am looking for a little downtime. Call it a moment to "stop and smell the roses," if you will (thank you, Expedia gnome).

But with the odd weather patterns we've been having and what seems to be a tougher than usual battle against pests (more chipmunks and groundhogs), it feels as if I am not saving time at all. I believe I am doing double my duty.

Here are a few of the ways (unsuccessfully thus far) I have tried to lessen my garden workload:

* Adding mulch: I've applied two to three inches of mulch around my plants and in my garden beds. It means less weeding (no way for the nasty buggers to get enough sun to grow), and it reduces the amount of time I spend watering (slows down water evaporation).

* Use a mulching mower: I have no clippings to bag, which means fewer stops (to empty the bag). The mulched grass covers any open ground, which means less chance weeds can find a place to sprout.

* Employ drip water hoses: I can put my watering cans on hiatus and stay in to watch Final Jeopardy. My usual routine is to water (with cans) in the morning and evening (around 7:25 p.m.). With the drip hoses, I can just turn on the tap and let the drips fall where they may (and more directly to the roots, where it is needed most).

* Sharpen tools: The ol' woodworker's adage is "Measure twice and cut once." I believe in the ol' green-thumber's adage, "Sharpen once and cut once." Dull tools just don't cut it, literally. I make sure that all of my tools (including the shovels) are edged, clean and ready to be put to work.

* Utilize a wheelbarrow: I recently got a Fitbit (a step- counting watch), but I don't want to overload it so soon. I can only imagine how much effort, and how many steps I waste, walking back and forth to my garage. Using a wheelbarrow means I no longer waste time taking numerous trips for forgotten tools, or lugging heavy gear.

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The northeastern United States hosts a diversity of native plants, many of which play essential roles for humans and the environment. …

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