Surprise! Gardening made my list of retirement activities. Like nobody saw that coming.

Few things make me happier than puttering around in the garden. Starting a flat of seed, turning over ground for a new flower bed, or setting out plants provide instant gratification. The rewards keep coming too — for weeks, months and even years.

I’m growing mostly annuals for now. They’re easy, colorful, bloom for months, and I can change things up every year. They’re also high maintenance. I don’t care. I’m retired.

Permanent plantings would be more cost effective, but I can’t decide what I want. Even if I could commit, drainage issues need to be resolved first. After a big rain, my lawn resembles a rice paddy — for days. The fix will likely mean tearing up most the yard to dig deep trenches and re-grade.

Soil quality is a related issue. In untouched areas of the yard, dirt is the color and hardness of Spanish roof tiles and only slightly more fertile. Adding organic matter and mulching year after year improves the soil.

Starting over every year can get expensive. Starting annuals from seed saves money — maybe. I’ve never kept track, so comparisons aren’t possible. I don’t care. Growing my own plants makes me happy and allows me to garden when it’s too cold to do much outside.

I haven’t checked, but assume fixing the drainage problems won’t be cheap. I’m hoping to work it in between Phase 2 (living room furniture) and Phase 3 (kitchen renovation) of my remodeling plan. I’m in no hurry.

Growing annuals is a lot more work, but I’m able (for now) and have the time. Gradually mixing in more permanent, low-maintenance plantings is the plan. No matter what, there will always be room for annuals — even if only a few pots on the patio.