Pruned Ambitions

Cutting back but still growing strong

By Dan Vierria
January 2022

No weed survives to spread seeds another day in my garden. Tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers overpopulate kitchen counters and fill refrigerator bins in summer. I wander the yard daily, hand pruners ready, to deadhead and shape annuals and perennials. This must stop in 2022.

Not one to declare New Year resolutions, reassessing garden duties recently struck me as a necessity. Following a year of distracted gardening because of home remodeling projects, COVID chaos and minor health challenges, it became obvious I needed to reconsider how I garden.

Aging nudged me, too. A recent knee injury from the up-and-down of planting was a painful reminder. Healed and energized, I hereby declare the suspension of Type A gardening and a new emphasis on Zen gardening.

Serenity and one with nature sound more appealing than my former life as a helicopter gardener.

Downsizing tomatoes has been the plan for five years. It never materialized. How many tomatoes are too many? When the kitchen counter accommodates no more, when the freezer is packed with frozen tomatoes and sauce, and when neighbors refuse to answer the door, your tomato yields exceed normal. Two or three fewer tomato plants should reduce the workload and anxiety.

To win the war on weeds, I’ll cease procrastination and order 3 or 4 cubic yards of bark mulch. The current mulch layer decomposed and thinned to bare spots. Weeds love bare spots. A 4-inch layer of bark mulch will deny most weeds for years and create additional time for napping.

More limoncello! An abundance of lemons exceeds demand for lemon meringue pie, fish, juicing and zesting. Limoncello is lemon peel steeped in Everclear or vodka, mixed with syrup and served straight from the freezer. It’s the fruit of gardening labors and a refreshing reward.

Houseplants are relatively easy to tend and add greenery and flowers to indoor environments. With remodeling work winding down, I’ll add more houseplants. Indoor plants are calming and an emotional, spiritual boost. Add a plant or two and see for yourself.

Lazy explains my past efforts to preserve herbs for cooking. Grocery store prices for dried herbs are a crime against the household budget. Cooking is a passion so I will be clipping homegrown herbs, drying and bottling them for dishes.
Rosemary, oregano and thyme all flourish in my garden. All are ideal for drying. Clipping and hanging bundles of herbs takes a few weeks, so I’ll use the oven or microwave to save time.

While assessing perennials, I was reminded of my fondness for purple blooms and foliage and the possible need for a color intervention. Not sure why I gravitate to that color, but the plan is to resist purple when buying new plants in 2022. Blue and pink, along with purple, are considered relaxing colors.

Roses are on my mind. Somehow, I strayed from planting roses. Perhaps it was to focus on water-efficient perennials. Modern hybrid roses demand water, but drip irrigation and mulch reduce consumption. Two dozen roses I once tended are down to a dozen. One or two new roses will make my wife happy. There, I managed to rationalize more roses.

A bonsai tree kit has been languishing on a shelf for years. It was a gift. I had every intention of cultivating and clipping miniature trees. Never happened. Now the plan is to go full bonsai Zen in 2022.

I’m ready to change course in 2022, to slow down and inhale a fragrant tuberosa before the waxy flower fades, to admire a white rose before petals drop. Come to think of it, white roses signify a new beginning. Maybe I will plant a moon garden

Dan Vierria is a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener for Sacramento County. He can be reached at For answers to gardening questions, contact the UCCE Master Gardeners at (916) 876-5338, email or visit Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

Stay up-to-date with our always 100% local newsletter!

* indicates required
Type of Newsletter
Share via
Copy link