Garden Variety SNARK

Garden Variety SNARK
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a little bit of snark, a touch of bitchiness, and a big eye-roll

I was recently made aware of something that I had no idea about – it was said on an online garden writer’s forum that “The best garden tips are the snarky ones”. WHERE HAVE I BEEN PEOPLE??? If anyone is going to be giving snarky gardening tips, it better be ME. I mean, in all honesty I hate tips and lists – they are usually just tricks to help with search engine rankings and rarely do these tips, tricks, and lists actually give any advice that hasn’t been endlessly recycled. But THIS IS DIFFERENT – because this is a list of “snarky” gardening tips!!!! So they have to be the best ones!!!

SGT #1 – Plants are ALIVE, stoopid!!!

I can’t tell you how many times I have to deal with people who basically think that plants are like furniture. Just put it where you want it and done! NO. Like anything that is alive, plants grow, change, and respond to their environment. Things will happen. Sometimes plants will suffer, sometimes they will die. It is part of the gorgeous dance those who throw in with nature understand – it isn’t always pretty, but it is ALWAYS worth it. Gardening changes your heart and your relationship with the world around you.

SGT #2 – It’s SOIL, not DIRT, you total dork!

Okay, it may be just a pet peeve, but we garden in soil, not dirt. Soil can be dirty, we get dirty from playing in and planting in soil. But “dirt” is grime, muck, dreck, gunk, crud – all the icky stuff. Soil is a complex ecosystem that has balance and purpose, it is rich and alive, it is life giving and miraculous.

SGT #3 – While we’re at it, compost can be a mulch but mulch is not compost!!!! GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD ALREADY!!! 

Mulch is a large category of materials that can be used to cover your soil in order to block weeds and to aid in moisture retention. Examples are gravel, wood chips, broken pottery, landscape fabric, and – compost. Compost is a mix of well decomposed green matter (fresh leaves, grass, fruit and vegetable scraps) and brown matter (dry leaves, newspaper, cardboard, wood scraps), and is used in many ways to improve soil structure. Again – compost can be a mulch, but mulch can’t be a compost.

SGT #4 – It isn’t rocket science… DUH…

But it is horticultural science. It is also botany – the biology of plants. Respect this as a culture of deep knowledge. We benefit from those who study and teach us, it is our task to be good students.

SGT #5 -You will always suck at this…

…if you’re lucky. Those of us who have been doing this long enough to be called “experts” know that we know some stuff, but we are far from expert. One should always be learning, always be questioning, always be finding new things and exploring new avenues of our chosen craft. We should always looks at plants and gardens with the curious eyes of a beginner. Once you think you know too much, your growth stops. Stay vital.

Posted by

Ivette Soler
on February 26, 2014 at 1:27 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic.


    • Liz
    • 8th October 2016

    Nice list, Ivette. The first one is one I’ve been surprised to encounter over and over again with otherwise intelligent people. My father, for instance, planted a whole slew of lovely shrubs in his garden, ignoring my advice about air circulation and plants doing this zany growing thing. There is only so much that pruning can accomplish.

    • Ivette Soler
    • 29th October 2016

    Liz, that one makes my head come to a point. And you’re totally right – even when people should KNOW better, they still expect a plant to still still and behave. Um, no. It doesn’t work with kids, it rarely works with dogs, and plants are just the same. They will grow and change, and this is natural and normal and lovely! And also – the other aspect – is people who are constantly wanting to move things around, as if all that uprooting and transplanting is easy for the plant!
    oh man I’m getting all heated just thinking about it!!!

    • skr
    • 29th October 2016

    as an adjunct to #5 I’ll add, ‘if you aren’t killing plants, you’re not tying hard enough.’

    • Ivette Soler
    • 9th November 2016

    Right on SKR – a real gardener has some blood on her/his hands!

    • Carolyn
    • 9th November 2016

    Re #3: In Britain compost seems to mean potting soil. I’m not sure what they say for compost.

    • Ivette Soler
    • 14th November 2016

    That is odd. Compost is often a component of potting soil, but potting soil has added material – usually to aid in drainage. Perlite, vermiculite, peat, coir … and all manner of other things, like little globs that hold water. Compost is a more specific product. I can’t imagine that it is different in England… but I’m not there!

    • jonas
    • 14th November 2016
    • Ivette Soler
    • 15th November 2016

    Loree that tile wall is my single most prized possession – when the topic of selling this house comes up (property values in my area have gone way up and making that kind of a move would be lucrative), I just look at that wall and say NO!!!! I don’t think I could ever leave it!!!!

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