Wednesday, December 3, 2008

About Paths

In my stumbling sort of way, I'm slowly coming to a deeper appreciation of how important paths are to a garden.

I have to admit that historically my garden planning habits have been really pathetic. I would basically clear a patch, spade the earth, put in seeds, and hope to somehow muster enough focus to keep it weeded and watered long enough to harvest something. Beds were mostly square or rectangular and usually too large to work from outside the had to stand in the middle of it.

Times, they are a changing. I'm starting to recognize how much a path can contribute to the ease with which I maintain a bed. If I place a garden along a route I walk for other reasons, it tends to get more of my attention and hence does better. Attention means weeding, watering when necessary, minding problems, etc. Beds that are out of my way tend to become work and usually don't perform well.

Last year I took a new turn and put in a keyhole bed. It worked great! Easy to access, optimized space, etc. That started me thinking more about the relationship between paths and gardens. In a subtle way, this has also transformed how I 'see' gardens in my yard. Whereas a garden used to have to be a certain size for me even to recognize it as a garden, I now try to put something in along my walkways wherever there's a square foot or two of space. Small beds rule! I'll only offer the caveat that borders also invite encroachment by weeds, etc. and that small beds mean more borders. So, as with everything else, there's no free lunch....except when it comes to zuchinni.

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