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A Grower’s Night Out: How to Garden If You Work the Day

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By Ricardo Elisiário | Jun 14, 2019

It can be impossible, or feel like a nightmare, to manage a garden while the sun is already shining on the opposite half of the world. Yet, it’s not, and if you’re forced to garden at night, then know that it could be worse and that there are even some upsides to it.

It’s dark and quiet… What now?

Maybe the moon is full and the evening free from clouds, and maybe, luckily, your garden doesn’t sit too much under the shadow of your tall house. If all these conditions match, you’re off to a great night of gardening out back. But what about when it’s not so easy?

Well, light can be produced at will, so much that there’s not even much thought as to what to do when it’s suddenly dark outside.

Every one of us has a phone, a flashlight or even a classy lantern that you can hang on a branch. I confess that the candle is oftentimes the most exciting alternative, or at least I used to always find an excuse to light one whenever the power box short-circuited at home.

Go grab your seeds or plantlets, the watering can and leave your house to go pay a visit to the lonely grounds. If the moon is idling, pay her your respects and move on because the night is dark and full of tasks to finish.

Watering at night can be bad, so do it right

We all have heard a bit about the fungi over the leaves and how such rots can indeed mean the end of a plant — or garden — if you happen to be watering on a Friday the 13th.

Watering at night gives a dampness that will remain on the plants and the soil beneath them during the whole night, which isn’t advisable, to say the least. Sure, many people do water early in the evening and that’s alright if they’re doing it in a climate that is dry and hot.

If you really have to water your plants long after the sun has set, then you should follow the basic rule that says not to sprinkle the leaves, only the earth. Use your lantern and find the feet of your garden’s little specimens and give them what they need without making a mess, or you might pay the consequences.

Good time to hunt plant-eating pests

Right now, I may have just instructed you to casually water the plants on their base, but even that doesn’t come free from certain downsides. For example, the most frequent types of plague are the snails and slugs that hide so well under and within your plants’ lower leaves, and shallowly underground too. These savages come out at night to binge on our yard and what does one do about it?

You may buy chemical feed to exterminate them or instead do it yourself, as a short nightly exercise — some squats, each one gets you a tad closer to their extinction. The slugs themselves are sneakier and also nastier to the touch and harder to kill. Often, I used to see my grandfather make what looked like a miniature barbecue stick of slugs, as that was one of the only ways to really finish them. Either that or death by drowning, it’s your pick, just (don’t) tell us how it went.

Besides these, at this hour of the evening there won’t usually be any other animals roaming, or they’re just too cryptic, tiny and harmless to you or your garden. What you might find there though is a stray cat or two, either groaning loudly because it’s mating season or simply trying to use your yard as a bathroom. With cats, do as you please — scare them away or let the poor critters be — after all they’re just contributing to your garden’s fertility.

Choose night-flowering, pale and scentful plants

Seeing that your only chance is to take care of the garden at eventide, I’d assume that that’s also your unique time to cherish it and appreciate its beauty. Nighttime is a little dimmer but with the artificial lights that you well know how to turn on, there is just about as much to see as there was a few hours earlier.

Some plants are obvious night bloomers and they’re also said to often be the most fragrant. So why not make use of their features and plant a generous corner of flowers that live for the night as much as you work during the day. Pale colors and big petals are also a smart choice if you want your candlelight to reflect somewhere else than dark green and mud.

A garden, when observed under the moonlight, gains a curious magical hue that seems to detach it from its background, and if you choose to keep the backdropping walls more discreet and in the shadow, then the flowers will pop up three times more than they would otherwise.

Use the fresh evening to plant them

Another tip to share regarding every good way in which you can use the dusk to your benefit is to adopt this hour of the day as the moment for preferred plantation and sowing.

Sowing might be harder, I admit, especially if the seeds are thinner than a crumb of chocolate cake, but if they’re biggish, then I think the moon, your phone’s flashlight and the glow of your joy for being out there doing such a tranquil task at that hour should be more than enough to illuminate the way.

You can even do the hard work at home or in the garage where you have a strong bulb behind your back, leaving everything ready except for the final steps that must be taken only when you’re outside on the gloomy backyard.

Doing mental working at night can be quite straining on the eyes and spirit just the same, so I truly feel that going out and calming ourselves down doing something that isn’t too demanding and also a lot of fun, is probably the greatest way to bid a long day farewell.

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