One of the most common complaints and challenges for many gardeners is maintaining consistency. Consistency can be difficult to achieve and maintain in gardens – specifically edible gardens. We may have the greatest intentions of propagating, growing and harvesting a certain amount of food, and certain types of food, but numerous factors can hinder us – the weather, our time and resources, including budgets, the seasons and increasingly, climate change.
While edible gardens do transition constantly, as crops come and go, compared to ornamental gardens, there are some things we can do to maintain more consistency – and these habits can take us from reactionary (my food is getting eaten by pests and diseases, my soil needs greater care or something is wrong with my [whatever plant or tree]) to actionary.
In my professional experience, too many gardeners are reactionaries, not actionaries. They react when something is wrong, when they notice something has been eating their produce, or their plants or fruit have a visible problem, or tastes strange. Being an actionary gardener means a little more planning – pre-empting to a larger degree what things might happen, what pests and diseases might potentially challenge us, stimulated by the weather, the season or certain changing conditions. Perhaps the most important of such habits is fertilizing.
I see a lot of people react only when something is wrong – usually a nutritional problem – with their plants or trees. By reacting only when a challenge presents itself, it’s often harder to correct the problem, or will take some time. Take, for example, feeding fruit trees. Like all plants and trees, fruit trees thrive on consistent, regular feeding, rather than reactionary feeding only when we notice a problem. A lot of people contact me with reports of strange fruit, no fruit or pest problems.
My first question is always, ‘When did you last fertilise them?’ The answer is usually ‘Oh, maybe 6 or 12 months ago’, and sometimes even ‘Never.’
Now I’m not writing here what, when and how to feed your fruit trees. I’m just highlighting the importance of being an actionary – know your plants’ and trees’ nutritional requirements, how often they need feeding (which can be dictated by the seasons, weather and other factors), what type of feed (and soil) is best and so on. One great way to achieve consistency and move us from reactionaries to actionaries is to keep a garden diary, or mark certain required activities on your calendar. For example, feed fruit trees every 3 months, or mulch every 3 months, etc. Keeping a visual reminder will help you become more actionary in your gardening, and help you achieve greater results when growing your own food.
Watering is also an activity that many gardeners, and not just new ones, are reactionary about – watering suddenly when they see their plants drying out or dying. But I’ll leave that topic for another time. In the meantime, grab yourself a garden diary or calendar (and make sure you keep it in a highly visible, easily accessible place) and make the transition from reactionary to actionary edible gardener. Best of luck!