If you've ever fretted over weeds in your yard or the depth of mulch in your garden beds, it's time to lighten up and not take your gardening hobby so seriously. Leave that to the professional gardeners and landscapers who dig in the dirt for a living. It's steamy out there, the bugs are in full force, and with all the recent downpours, our plants are growing at exponential speed. You could be weeding, pruning and mowing, but why not sit back and have a good laugh at the silly side of gardening?
Less about dirt, more about dirty
Summer is an ideal time to catch up on garden catalogs and magazines that piled up over the winter and spring, when you spent your free time outdoors. It's popular to store them in your garden shed. At least that's the claim made by British homemaker Sharon Thomas. That would have been fine if her catalogs featured seeds and plants, but Thomas' stash wasn't the typical garden fare. Her garden shed housed an international porn operation that mailed thousands of sex catalogs touting illegal porn CDs and videos.
Grow a beer garden with a side of fungi
There are countless garden-related Web sites worth checking out this summer, including Dave's Garden (davesgarden.com), where you'll learn how to turn tissue boxes into birdhouses and bowling balls into garden gazing globes.
At Freshops (freshops.com), you can order Humulus lupulus, more commonly known as the hop plant, and supplies for growing and brewing your own beer.
Add a few 'shrooms to your beer garden from the Spore Store (sporestore.com) or Mushroom People (mushroompeople.com), and soon you'll be throwing your neighborhood block party.
For the adventurous, full frontal floriculture
You've got 10 months to get in shape for next year's annual World Naked Gardening Day, when gardeners everywhere are encouraged to tend their yards in the buff. On the first Saturday of May, gardening enthusiasts bare all with friends, family and gardening clubs in back yards, city parks and community gardens. Before you strip down, be warned: There are laws against public nudity, even in your own yard. Just ask Carolyn Sparks of Brooksville, who was cited for raking leaves topless in her front yard.
But there's an alternative for modest folks: the "Garden Naked" T-shirt, $18 from Natural Alternative's Eye Candy (nalt.com).
Squat, then give bugs a swat
There are plenty of goofy gardening products, like the Wearable Garden Stool, below, $50 from Clean Air Gardening Supply (cleanairgardening.com). Designed as a milking stool, it looks like a pigtail and straps on to let you squat and spring from plant to plant, plus you can wear it while walking. What a sight to behold, especially if worn on the backsides of gardeners on World Naked Gardening Day!
Summer bugs in Florida are a nuisance, but there are two new ways to fight back. The Zap-a-Bug electrified tennis racket ($20 at firstestore.com) lets you practice your serve while electrocuting mosquitoes and flies. Or if spiders make you squirm, there's Lee Valley Tool's Long-Handled Spider Catcher, right, with pincers at the end of a 2-foot shaft for picking spiders from a safe distance ($19.95 from leevalley.com).
To keep pests at bay, there's eau de . . . eww
Sometimes it's not insects that are bugging you, but critters such as rats and raccoons — and even the neighbor's dog or cat that's using your garden as a waste station. But there's urine to the rescue, thanks to Predator Pee (predatorpee.com), which collects and bottles urine from wolves, lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and other animals. Spray the urine in your garden and you'll repel unwanted visitors. Not sure which one will work? No problem. You can order the Predator Pee Sampler with five trial-size bottles of assorted urine for $19.99.
Better than 5-10-5: No. 1 and No. 2
Not to be outdone by four-legged creatures, there's a movement to compost gardens with "humanure," treated waste from composting toilets. These toilets are low-tech and reduce water use, according to Joseph Jenkins, author of The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure (Jenkins Publishing, 1999). With 304 pages of details, illustrations, tables and charts, it's a must-have for your summer reading list.
Yvonne Swanson is a freelance writer in St. Petersburg and a master gardener for Pinellas County.