It’s once again time for a lesson on the language of gardeners.
Today’s lesson is on the terms that experienced gardeners use for “distance” and what they really mean.
We will begin with three terms used for distances within the garden and conclude with one term used for distances outside of the garden.
As deep as you can dig
For most bulbs planted in the fall, the instructions indicate to plant the bulbs at a depth that is two to three times the height of the bulb. Sometimes they’ll say to plant the bulbs four to six inches deep. What this means to gardeners is to dig as deep as you can so that when you plant the bulb it will be covered with dirt, and that’s deep enough! This is especially helpful for those who have hard clay soils or lots of roots to dig through. Note, results are not guaranteed when you plant “as deep as you can dig”, but sometimes that is all the deeper you can dig.
A little closer
Most gardeners tend to space their plants a little closer than the directions, if there are directions, might indicate. We set all the plants out where we think they should be and then decide “a little closer” is better. Or at the very least, if a tag says to space the plants six to eight inches a part, six inches is better, or maybe a little closer for good measure. In some cases, this achieves that “fully planted” look sooner; in other cases this means that the plants get crowded out and some may have to be removed or trimmed back. Even experienced gardeners have to be careful with “a little closer”.
“Dang it” is the term gardeners use when they discover that their garden hose is not quite long enough to reach that furthest corner of the garden. We stand there, with the hose stretched as taunt as possible and say “dang it”. Then we drop the hose, which of course lands on the sprayer handle and shoots water up like a fountain, soaking us in the process, and go get a watering can, which we have to fill multiple times to reach that one spot that the hose won’t reach, dang it.
Not very far
When a gardener decides there is a particular nursery, garden center, garden, or garden event they would like to visit, the distance to it magically becomes “not very far”. For example, as it turns out, the first garden bloggers’ spring fling in Austin, Texas, was “not very far”, just a quick plane ride to St. Louis, then another plane to Austin and I was there. See, not very far. Ditto, it was not very far to Chicago this past spring for the second spring fling, and it is not very far to Buffalo, NY for the next fling in July 2010.
I would advise anyone that when a gardener coaxes you to go with them to a garden whatever that is “not very far”, make sure to go to the bathroom before you get in the car, pack some provisions including an overnight bag (just in case!), check to see that the gas tank is full, and then relax and enjoy the drive because though it’s “not very far”, it might be further than you imagined and then a few miles more.
Perhaps you are even gaining enough understanding and confidence to use some of these terms yourself?
I hope so!