The Best time to plant a tree is last year; the second best time is today!
Thoughts and memories of this topic bring me back to my childhood days. It was the early 1970’s and I was just a school boy attending Bernstein Junior High (I.S.7). This school is located on Huguenot road and Hylan Blvd found on Staten Island, New York. The day was Arbor Day which in the United States is the last Friday of April. For those who don’t know, the word Arbour in Latin means tree. Arbour is translated to the English word Arbor. So our school teacher was helping us learn about tree day. On this early sunny spring day my teacher decided that the class was to go outside of the school and plant a tree. The tree would be planted on the north western corner, facing Hylan Blvd. Years have passed since this remembered Arbor Day, but the lesson was still learned and not forgotten. Close to 40 years after planting this tree, I can drive down Hylan Boulevard with my grand kids, pass the school and see this big beautiful tree still growing.
I know what you may be thinking. What does this story have to do with gardening? I’m here to tell you it has more to do with gardening for your Children’s, Children’s, Children than you think. You see, an old evergreen tree can last many generations. Using this understanding, why can’t a fruit or nut tree do the same? After all, isn’t the idea to preserve nature’s soil and its life for our future generations?
Annuals vs Perennials
All of nature’s plants may be separated into one of two categories. These categories are called annuals and perennials. These terms may be confusing to the new gardener. The way I sometimes remember new words is to associate the words with other words that I already understand. For those who don’t know my background, I have a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. Sometimes It’s easy for me to relate words with financial concepts. For example, I relate the word annual with annual income. This is a one year period. In the plant world the word Annual means growing on a one year basis. Plants in which are annuals grow from germination to maturity in one year duration, just like annual income. Examples of annuals found in the garden are corn, squash, tomato, lettuce and cucumber. Annuals make up the largest part of a typical backyard garden. Annuals are like animals and annual income; they need constant input and care. They need food and water and often some shelter.
The term perennial is a little harder for me to put in financial terms because the definition of perennial is long lasting or enduring. To me a perennial money supply or positive stock market is too hard to fathom. This is why I hold the association that perennial = permanent. For whatever reason, perennial and permanent seems to stick. Though it’s hard to find things that are truly permanent, it’s better to think of permanent or perennial as things that last more than one year.
In the plant world, the word perennial means enduring, more than one year of life. Nature’s perennial plants differ considerably from annuals. Some perennials may be evergreen. Evergreen plants are forever green. An evergreen plant will stay green for the plants life. Others perennial plants are deciduous. Deciduous plants may appear dead by losing their leaves in yearly cycles.
Backyard gardeners may enjoy having perennial plants around to diversify their family’s diets. Perennial backyard plants may include raspberry, blackberry, and blue berry. Here in Arizona my goji berries grow without care. I also have incorporated small peach trees, grapes and a cheery bush. One day I will plant Kiwis to complement my banana trees. You see, Perennials aren’t limited to the south. Perennials could be planted in any USDA zone as a seasonal treat for your family. With very little care, just like those old trees planted when I was a child on Arbor Day, a perennial fruit plant may even be enjoyed by your Children’s, Children’s, Children.
As a gardener trying to preserve my soils and its future life for my children, I do my best to follow the written words found in the biblical book of Mathew. More specifically Mathew 5:5. Mathew writes the words of Jesus,“Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth”. The Merriam Webster Online Dictionarydefines meek as enduring injury with patience and without restraint. Every gardener has failures in the garden. The thing is to be patient and endure with faith. Never give up.
TheLexiLogos Modern Greek Dictionary translates the English word meek into the words Praos, Praeis and Praus. These Greek words basically mean mild, gentile and happy. Praus also means strength brought under control. This translation sits very well with most organic gardeners. By gardening we must find inner peace. If we show our inner Praus, we may stand up to negative garden issues like vegetable diseases, insects and natural negative element like drought and heat. We can show our patients and control by restraining the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. We have the ability to take short cuts but the meek gardener doesn’t. The meek gardener shows great strength by being peacefully calm and under control. After all, you reap what you sow. Sow in the best fashion you can and remember this for it is written, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth”. The inheritance here is given proudly to our Children’s, Children’s Children.