at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

True Confessions of a Plant Hoarder

Really, I enjoy gardening because I like playing in the dirt!
I think I have a problem. In my desperate attempt to get things to grow in my garden and with my love for all things green and flowery, I think I have become a plant hoarder. Let me back up just a bit. When I was a child I always wanted a garden. I loved plants and animals and the earth and the environment (click here for evidence). I was allotted a small plot one year, and got a small yield. I failed at container gardening and without anyone to teach me how to do it properly, I didn't try again. My love for plants never did wane, though. When we bought a house, one of the things I was most excited about was the chance to really try my hand at gardening. I think the root (no pun intended) of my problem is two-fold: 1) Having always wanted to grow things and not having the opportunity, I am eager to get my hands on (and keep) as many plants as I can; and 2) Not being good at growing things has made me extra possessive, thinking that if I have more plants, surely some of them will do well.

My plant hoarding has manifested itself in a few different ways. Primarily, it has meant that I don't want to get rid of any plants, even seedlings -- especially ones that I have grown from seed myself. This means that "thinning out" seedlings is extremely difficult for me.  The only exception has been lettuce; I thoroughly enjoyed thinning out my lettuces last year and eating the baby greens! But baby seedlings that aren't so edible, are sad to pull. Any "volunteers" that I get randomly growing in my garden (e.g. pumpkins) tend to be left where they are and allowed to grow. 

What do I DO with my leftover seedlings? They're like
my babies, and it feels so wrong to let them die...

I have an extremely hard time parting with my tomato seedlings. I planted two whole packets (one packet of Brandywine seeds and one packet of grape tomato seeds), to be sure that I had some actually grow (see my previous years' failures). Since I actually did my seed starting properly this year, just about all of the seeds germinated, leaving me with far more tomato plants than I need or know what to do with.  Over the past few months as my tomato seedlings have grown, I've tried to select the best looking ones to transplant into larger pots, etc.  I did a couple of rounds of this and ended up with several tiers of tomato plants. I ended up planting in my garden all but the lowest tier plants (the ones that never made it out of their peat pots!).  Let me correct that statement.  I planted tier 1 and tier 2 plants in the garden. I couldn't quite part with the tier 3 plants, even though I had no room for them, so I planted them outside my garden, between my stone pathway and my garden fence (so I could use the fence posts as stakes!).  And...shhh...I hid one baby tomato plant in with my perennial flowers! Does it sound like I have a problem to you?

Carrots and potatoes popping up everywhere! Not sure
quite what to do with them...
I also want to grow a little of everything, and I want to have lots of each type of plant to be sure that I get something to harvest.  So, I tend to ignore the planting guidelines in favor of more plants.  I have gotten better.  I tried really hard to use appropriate spacing last year, and I did see some good results from that -- until the deer ravished everything.  This also means that I tend to give up my would be "pathways" in my garden in favor of, yes, more plants -- so, I don't usually really have a place to safely stand as I harvest and tend to my garden.

I've hoarded flowers, too, not just vegetables. I justify that because when I first moved into my house, I had basically a large barren area behind my garage where I envisioned a flower garden. It was a large space to fill and I didn't have a lot of extra money to spend on plants, so I jumped at the chance to take plants from anyone who was dividing theirs and needed to get rid of something.  It didn't matter what it was. If it was a perennial, I'd throw it in my garden. My perennial garden is now completely full, yet I still have a hard time saying "no" when somebody offers me plants. I will find a place for them somewhere.

This is what my perennial garden looked like our first spring in the house
Here's what it looks like so far this year -- three years later.
And another view, so you can actually see some of the flowers!

My plant hoarding means I have had some overcrowding issues, both with vegetables and flowers. I know this is bad. I am not quite sure how to break my bad habit, but admitting you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, right?  This is my confession.

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!