It would be wonderful to announce that after years and years of effort, I’ve learned the secrets to gardening. It would be wonderful, but it wouldn’t be true. Oh, there have been certain lessons learned and as a result, the garden soil is steadily improving. Some whole areas are doing very well; some are not, yet. But the main thing I’ve learned about gardening is that one simply never learns it all.
There are a few special bits I could share with fellow gardeners, some passed along to me from books and magazines, some I figured out all by myself. First of all, even the best gardeners lose a plant now and then. If a plant is lost, that means there’s a space to try something else. Try something new every year. On the other hand, remember that there are reasons why certain plants are grown all over your area: they work, so don’t get snobby about ordinary plants like periwinkles and marigolds. And if you really want to know about one of the best garden tools around, get a dishpan. Just a plain old plastic dishpan from the least expensive local store. I prefer white, because that shows up well and you can always find it where you left it and forgot it. I have two, right now. We use them for everything. I put a pot in the dishpan (I call it a tub) when I’m repotting or repotting a plant; it catches the spilled potting soil. It’s great for filling with mulch or potting soil to carry to a particular place. If I have several small pots, say the four-inch ones fresh from the plant store, I’ll put them all together to water and to hold until I can get them planted. One of my tubs is cracked a bit in the bottom. That means that I can put plants in it and leave it out in the rain and it will drain so the plants don’t drown. So that cracked tub is just as greatly cherished as the other, uncracked one that I keep upside down on my potting bench to cover an old flowerpot filled with miscellaneous old tools; the pan keeps the rain out of the flowerpot, but is still right there to grab when I need it.
These plain old dishpans are a wonderful example of the common items we all have in our life that are simple, useful, and good to have around. They could even be considered a metaphor for other aspects of our lives. So many times it seems as though we look for tricky solutions or special equipment, or think our lives would be happier if we had more glitter and pizzazz from the shops, when in actuality what we need is simple things that we may already have, such as a cracked tub.