I almost hate to write this, because it feels like a tired topic. My garden is a metaphor for my life. I know. You’ve heard this before. But, since I’m experiencing it myself, it feels new.
When I moved into this house almost 4 years ago, I longed for a garden. I had been living in a condominium for 5 years and the pots on the balcony didn’t cut it for me. It’s just not the same.
There was an area that had clearly been a garden at one time, but by then it was a pile of rock and weeds. When I tried to scrape off the rock, or use a shovel to dig down, it was like cement. Under the rock was plastic, under that was clay. It was impossible. I gave up. I settled for pots again that year. I tried to dig again the next year, same thing. Nothing budged. More pots.
Last year, Sir G went out and somehow scraped off the rock, pulled up the plastic, rototilled what was there and brought in new dirt. I swear, it only took him two hours to get through the rock and pull up the plastic. I was convinced it couldn’t be done. I hate that. I thought if it could be done, I should have been able to do it. But, I’m learning in my, how do I say this….I’m maturing. That’s it. I’m learning in my “maturity” and accepting that some people are better suited to some things than I. I can’t do everything, but I can ask for help. I’m okay with it now. He’s stronger. He got through the rock.
Sir G often manages to do things I think can’t be done. He’s patient, and just does them. This is off topic, but I had a briefcase that I forgot the lock combination to. He sat down with it and proceeded to go through every number combination, starting with 0000. “You are kidding me, right?” And off I went. He got it open in 10 minutes, unbelievable. No way would I have even tried that. I was ready to just break the locks. I’m sure this is a topic for a different post on a different day. Back to my garden….
This year SirG made a frame with chicken wire and sifted all of the dirt in the garden. More, “You’re kidding me, right?” No. No more rocks. He brought in fresh soil, manure and tilled it again. We were going to have the perfect garden! We planted flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit. We used a mix of seeds, seedlings from the nursery and seedlings we started ourselves. We had visions of lush growth, abundant fruit…
But, it wasn’t to be. It wasn’t growing as we thought it would. Some things just withered away. Our lettuce wasn’t growing. The berries sent out tons of shoots, but no berries appeared. Some things never broke through the ground at all. The sweet peas didn’t climb. The Hollyhocks didn’t come up. Darn it!
We put so much care into preparing the soil, it was a disappointment. Why was it limping along? I know that all gardens are trial and error. That’s part of the fun for me. I like to plant some things every year, that I’ve never planted before to see how they grow. So, I’m usually in for a surprise here and there. But still, we expected more from our garden. Why did we get tons of shoots for our strawberries, but no strawberries? Why did we have 30 tomato flowers, but only 2 tomatoes? The pumpkin stopped growing. The sweet peas didn’t creep….It was so odd.
SirG, being SirG, kept at it. He thought about it, tended it, weeded and watered. He’d sit and stare at that garden figuring out how to help it. He devised a drip system. He moved things. Have I ever mentioned his dad was Amish? I can just picture him at 90, among his beloved garden rows. If he goes missing, I’ll know to look among the rows… Neat rows, of course, neat German rows. Contrast this with my right brained, artist rows, which I prefer in round clumps, the flowers mixed up with the vegetables, thinking of color and shape…. Nobody will find me there if I go down…. Anyway, he figured out that some of our seedlings couldn’t break through the fine netting we planted them in. He dug them all up, freed the roots and replanted. (no way would I have done that) He moved the pumpkin plant to a different spot. He started cutting the strawberry runners, so the plant could put energy into strawberries. He didn’t throw in the towel, he tried different things.
I thought of myself as someone with perseverance, if not necessarily patience. But really, compared to what I’ve seen SirG do with briefcase locks, gardens and cement-like ground, I’ve got a ways to go. He’s relentless. The garden began to turn around. It began to produce.
The, sunflowers started attracting bees, and our plants were pollinated. Tomatoes started growing. Strawberries began to appear. My first clump of grapes, ever. The basil with the freed up roots grew like mad…The pumpkin began to spread. My lettuce was so perfect, I didn’t want to cut it. Look at that gorgeous picture!
Then, the mammoth sunflowers kept growing and growing, but just before they were going to bloom, the tops were getting snapped off! Darn it! That was a mystery. I’d go out in the morning, excited to see if I had a giant bloom, only to see another broken stalk. Baaahhhhh! We finally figured out the squirrels were jumping from the electrical wires onto the plants and breaking the stalks. Now we know. “Next year, over there!”
This all got me thinking how you can do what you think are all the right things for your garden: prepare the soil, plant your seeds, water and weed. But, you just never know what will happen, until it begins to grow, or not. And, you have a choice to walk away and declare it a failure, or roll up your sleeves and see what you can do different. Maybe it will help. I look at these pictures and you’d never know that it started off so dismally. That first month was not promising at all. I began to lose hope for an abundant garden this year.
It’s the same with our lives, with our kids, with our plans. You can lay all of the groundwork perfectly, you think. But there are unforeseen variables everywhere. You just never know. Some things might look like that impossible pile of rock, unmovable. But they aren’t. It’s worth a shot to try. With a little work, it might turn into something beautiful that will surprise you. And, the fact that it didn’t go perfectly right off the bat, will teach you something worthwhile.