“Spent hours in the sun in the garden plot, clearing out the what-ifs, if-onlys, weeds & tomato stakes of 2011 – reviewing the waste of seed, space, energy & time… After last year’s great garden failure, I didn’t know if I’d be trying again. But I will. Why? Because in the end, I need that time in the sun in the garden plot.”
Since I hope to revive my blogging by writing about our garden this year, I suppose the above recent facebook post is a good a way to start as any. I finished the garden season last year defeated, with no harvest to speak of since spring leaf lettuce, and minimal amounts of canning done only due to the generosity of other successful gardeners.
I can sincerely say that our third-year garden, for which I had the highest hopes, was a complete waste from the moment the leaf lettuce bolted. Saddled with a fledgling business, Frank’s ailing father, an early spring break away for me to help my mother — all could have been worked around , maybe.
Then came the wind storm. It flattened tomato stakes and bean poles. During the repair work, we discovered another problem, one which we did not diagnose soon enough — stink bugs.
Within a small amount of time, the battle was lost. The new rototiller sat quiet, beneath a wash tub cover. In August, Frank’s father’s health took a down turn, and by September when he died, we had long given up on the garden. If there ever were any edible peppers among the tall grasses, the deer ate them.
I often found my groove in the garden in my past years, but not last year. Heading into this past winter, I had no thoughts or desires for a garden. Time previously spent canning or drying and saving seed for the future was time spent — with other thoughts. Past dreams to be a regular vendor at the farmer’s market were quiet and faded, seed trays and gardening tools were tossed haphazardly into the outbuilding some time in late November before the holidays.
But in January, the days were unseasonably warm, and when the seed catalog came, I half-heartedly paged through. But it sparked….. something. And the next unseasonably warm day, when I went out to feed the hens, I wandered on inside the garden’s fence. Tomato stakes teetered askew, mammoth sunflower stalks bent over, picked empty by the local birds. Tall grasses had flourished and gone to seed, fallen over under snow, and now matted the entire garden floor.
It was a sorry, sorry sight.
And while Daisy sniffed among the matted grass for ground moles and field mice, I began clearing stakes and strings and cages. While I hope to have a great garden and grand harvest this year, as we have known in the past, I have also come to realize — a gardener gardens to garden. We do it to dig in the soil, to smell the earth, to soak the sun, to work our muscles, to clear our minds.
The harvest is not the only reward.