It’s time to get messy.
I’m not talking about the level of messy that I displayed in my bedroom as a teenager, though I continue to be impressed at just how my sister and I managed to cover every inch of floor with clothes, books, and other tripping hazards. I’m surprised, looking back, that neither of us broke any bones in there. The only blank empty places in our room were the dresser drawers.
No, I am talking about the garden. Turns out it’s not a bad thing to be a little messy.
Some of my summer plants are nearing an end, turning brown and dry. Pull them up, you say? Nope. I am leaving them to shelter the fall plantings that I’ve started. The August sun is too much for them, so the older, dying plants make a nice shelter for tender seedlings.
The sweet peas are long past their prime after providing a bumper crop, but I have left the plants in the ground for now as the pea pods turn brown, providing next year’s seeds. (I hope to harvest tomato seeds, but I can’t seem to stop eating the tomatoes long enough to save any.)
My Nasturtiums are dying an ugly death, but it gives pests something to munch on other than vegetables. The other nearby fruits and vegetables are unharmed and unnoticed by little critters because of the Nasturtiums’ noble sacrifice. I can’t blame the bugs. Nasturtiums are pretty tasty with their peppery flavor. Besides, they’re prolific seeders, so I’ll see them again next year without even trying!
According to The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips, my fruit trees need an understory. We were trying to hard to keep the weeds under the trees at bay, but this was a mistake! I did some things right by planting berries nearby, but they also would like my dandelions, please, and oh by the way, don’t dig up the lavender that’s spilling outside its borders. When the leaves fall for the season, I will leave them on the ground. A messy understory helps make for healthier trees.
Our sterile, corporate-driven life has made us feel inadequate. We want to look good, smell good, and have a big smile plastered on our faces at all times. We want to be fit, wealthy, and perfect in every way.
Here in the garden, I have a permanent dirt stain in my fingernail beds. The deer have denuded a section of the fig tree because we decided it was okay to share that part of the yard with them. The weeds are starting to grow again under the fruit trees. It’s chaotic, wild, and definitely messy. And that’s okay with me.