Saturday, October 16, 2010

Unpleasant but Necessary Garden Maintenance

Spending time in and tending to my vegetable garden is one of the greatest joys in my life.  It's where I go when the challenges of life seem overwhelming and I need to refocus on what's really important.  

Since retiring three years ago, I've been able to devote much time to two of my favorite past times:  gardening and cooking.  Harry and I have spent a lot of money and time on my garden in the past few years making it beautiful, functional and productive, and he knows how much I love it.   

This past week we had to make a difficult but necessary decision.  We have one big oak tree that is blocking about four hours of sunlight from my garden.  This tree is directly in the path of the rising morning sun and its shadow is adversely affecting my garden. 

When we put the garden in four years ago, the trees were not a problem.  But they've grown since then.  Something I did not anticipate.  And now my garden is not getting enough sun and my vegetables are growing slowly or not at all.  It became particularly evident this year when I put in my fall garden.  I even had seeds this fall that did not germinated due to lack of sunshine.  We came to the painful realization that this cannot continue.  With heavy hearts, Harry and I made the decision to take out that one oak tree.  Believe me, we didn't come to this decision lightly.  I spent many hours in the garden watching the path of the sun and timing it as it came over the top of the tree canopy.  It's true; I'm losing at least four hours of morning sun.

This is where the sun is at 7:45 am...

and this is where it is at 11:30 am...just beginning to rise above the tree canopy.

And here are two beds in my garden at 11:30 am and they haven't yet seen the sun.

On Tuesday, we had a crew out to remove that tree and clean up two more oaks that are contributing to the lack of sun on the West side of the garden, although not to the same degree.


We had the crew cut and stack the wood to use for the fire pit this winter, to take to the ranch house and to give to friends who have fireplaces.

As you can see from this after photo, removing that tree opened up my garden to the sun like I never imagined.  All six beds are now getting at least 8 hours of sunlight which is far better than the scarcely 4 hours they had been getting.  And that's in the fall when the sun rises later and doesn't get so high during the day.  In the spring and summer, the garden will get much more sun. 

When we built this house, we only took out one small oak tree so I'm trying not to feel too badly about removing this one.  There are hundreds more oak trees on the property.  I know it was necessary and right thing to do and I'm OK with it...sort of...kind of...mostly :'/

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