Lessons learned in the dirt
My hubby and I are kind of indifferent gardeners.
We’ve almost always had a garden, if by “having a garden” I mean having one pitiful tomato or herb plant somewhere around the place.
Several consecutive years – but a bit ago – we had a lovely raised bed garden by the sunny side of our house. Then we got busy traveling and let it go. It became a raised bed that our dogs found irresistible for some reason – they were always walking in it, which we know is not conducive to having plants in there. So we didn’t.
Enter 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic.
We, like so many, turned our thoughts to self-sufficiency. Since we don’t have the space for livestock, and wouldn’t know what to do with them anyway, we thought we’d garden.
We cleared out that old raised bed, bought more soil and soil “enhancers,” and planted our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green onions and radishes. Later, after the onions and radishes we added some potato plants (because we had some potatoes with extremely long “eyes” and we though, “Why not?”).
Fast forward to August, and …. Holy smokes! The thing grew. It actually gave us radishes, tomatoes and peppers. Not so with the green onions and cukes. Oh, well. Live and learn.
So here are some life lessons I learned in picking some of the thousands of tomatoes we happened (because it was totally by accident) to grow:
· Snacking. When you’re in the middle of work, having a snack is nice. Those lovely orange cherry tomatoes are the perfect one. At least it’s a healthy snack!
· Dirt. It’s ok to get dirty doing something and sometimes getting muddy and having soil under your fingernails is a fun thing. It all washes away. It’s completely different than what I do all day long every day (therapy) and it’s nice to have a change sometimes. Dirt can be your friend.
· Everything is not always what it seems. We had this vine in our garden that we had no idea what it was. It was in the back, where we were trying to plant cucumbers, but it didn’t really look like anything. At first we worried it was a poison vine (our land was overgrown with poison when we originally cleared it), but we found out it wasn’t, and pulled it. Nevertheless, the cucumbers were sad, stunted things. However, the vine came back, and, low and behold, grew a cucumber, something the new plants we had just bought hardly did! Sometimes very valuable things are disguised as something else, and you should look closely to see what’s what. And on that point …
· Sometimes things you thought were dead can come back to life and be productive. Enough said.
· Nurturing can be fun. I always knew I liked weeding, but I don’t often do it, since I’m so busy in my “real job.” However, this year’s garden gave me a chance to do a little more of that and I’ve found that it’s quite fun to nurture those small plants to large, fruit- or vegetable-bearing ones.
· Support. In the same vein, providing support, so close to what I do for people for a living, can be difficult and time-consuming, but done right, it makes a difference in lives. So, too, is it with gardens. If you don’t support those tomatoes, they will be all over the place, and you will be finding tomatoes that have rotted on the (lower) vines. Support for plants, like for humans, is necessary.
· Failure is ok, because you learn something from it. We obviously failed with onions and with cucumbers, two plants we’ve grown with success in the past. However, this year, we knew what we did wrong and are already making plans to change those things next year.
Even with our obvious failures and dubious farm skills, we are prep
aring even now to do this again next year, even if we can travel and have other things to do (mostly travel, if you know us). It got under our skin.
Or maybe that’s just the dirt from our last weeding session.
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