Why Procrastination in the Garden Can Be a Good Thing

Dog And Park BenchProcrastination. Generally a dirty word, and yet, it doesn’t always have to be.

I have plenty of experience in the field, and have come to the conclusion that in gardening, procrastination can be a beautiful thing.

Like the time I left a pile of weeds on the path because I’d much rather pull weeds in a weeding frenzy than clean them up. Within the next few days, I picked up the pile, and voila! About 15 slugs were hiding out, in perceived safety. My pile of weeds had become the perfect slug trap.

Or the time I didn’t get to the weeds when they were small, and boom! Now they are racing for the sky, starting to bloom. There is no need to bend over to find them and they are so easy to pull out now. Do not wait any longer, however, or they will go to seed.

I never found the time to start seedlings inside in late winter — disappointing, I know — but now the ground has warmed, the birds are singing, and any seeds I plant directly in the soil come up in days.

The seedlings quickly catch up in size to any seedling I may have been coddling in my basement, and I did not have to harden them off. For a greater variety, I can swing by the farmers market and buy a few choice vegetable starts from farmers.

You didn’t get to pruning your shrubs like you planned to for a few years? No worries!

Go do it when you have time and you may well discover that several branches have layered along the ground, rooting where they were in contact with the soil. You can increase your collection of lovely shrubs with no effort and no need to spend money. As a bonus, you will have continuity in your garden through the repetition of plant varieties.

And the shrub you thought died in the early frost last fall? By waiting until now to dig it up and get rid of it, you may find new shoots emerging from the base of the plant. Saved by procrastination once again!

By starting my lettuce seeds under a row cover and keeping them covered through the heat of the summer, I found my lettuce remained tender and sweet, when in the past it would have bolted and grown bitter.

Normally I would not have kept lettuce covered once the temperatures had warmed but I got busy and left it on. I expected the row cover to keep the heat in and decrease air circulation but instead it provided some shade and kept the leaves tender.

When you don’t clean up your flowerbeds in the fall, you are providing food and habitat to a myriad of creatures — salamanders, frogs, butterflies, spiders. The list is endless. Do not procrastinate, however, if your plants are diseased. Rake up the leaves and dispose of them to curb the spread of disease.

If you get behind deadheading your roses in the fall, great! They will be able to develop rose hips, starting their process of preparing for winter.

You didn’t get around to spraying the pests on your trees? That may not be a problem.

When you allow natural predators to feed on their hosts — like the parasitoid flies and wasps that consume tent caterpillars from within — rather than spraying them with pesticides that upset the balance of the ecosystem and potentially harm other species, you allow an amazing natural process to take place without having to lift a finger.

Go ahead, enjoy some well-earned time with a nice glass of something on that well-placed bench in your garden. As you relax, a solution to an unresolved problem may become crystal clear.

Ideas have a way of creeping up on you if given half a chance. Procrastinate! You may be doing your garden a favor.