Every year I promise I won’t go AWOL during the main growing season of the garden. Just so I will get everything done and catch up with the past year’s neglect. but every year I manage to break those unspoken, informal vows.
Usually family related, but sometime through the call of far off places I leave the yard in varying states of upkeep and return to a jungle.
This year I didn’t even start until I returned after Mother’s Day.
Vegetables Are Growing
Nevertheless the vegetable garden was put in, and I have harvested the salad stuff. Handyman rigged up a somewhat permanent support for my tomatoes, in between the latest upkeep of painting the house’s metal roof.
I finally went about buying plants for my containers, and reversed the usual schedule of garden cleanup, starting from the outer reaches (the vegetable beds) and working inward toward the house. I was so ashamed of my driveway entrance that I finally popped in some flowers and halfway cleared the weedy overgrowth. Now I am only half ashamed.
This year has been forgiving of late starts, so far.
The tomatoes and peppers are a little behind, but the spinach grew like… what is a good simile? As in a time lapse, almost visibly leafing out like a Magician’s scarf trick. It was the old fashioned ‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’ variety, I think.
It was very good tasting even after those hot spells, and hasn’t bolted yet, though the radishes long had gone to flower and cracked … now cleared away.
No, I didn’t note which seeds I planted this year – in the rush to just get something planted.
I have switched over to raised beds and deeply mulched the paths in the last few years. The chickens make havoc of the paths as they scratch through. Now an extra chore of raking the mulch into even levels is added to program of regular tasks.
The mulched paths have kept the weeds down and spare both dust and mud. They have been a good idea, so far.
We had a powerful storm last night and the leaves of the Star Magnolia and the hostas are still turned from the winds. Tree leaves are scattered everywhere and the seat cushions even blew off the porch.
I had given up on the many predicted days of precipitation, and watered. The overnight storm brought inundations and flash flood warnings, but is all soaked up now.
My Hands… And Muscles
All the weeding and pruning that was needed has taken its toll. My mind can always accomplish more than my body can keep up with. However, what is more satisfying than the result of a newly tidied garden?
I have only bits that qualify for that description, but still! Every area that is worked on shows such marked difference that it redoubles my determination to see the job through.
And the weather has helped immeasurably. Warm, but with cooling breezes and overcast days, lend meaning to the old farm saying “make hay while the sun shines”. Whether sunny or in shadow, the days have been perfect for yardwork.
When the hot and humid Ohio summer settles in, Nature will be given no restraints from me. At least not on the scale that shows progress,
The Yin And Yang Of Gardening
It is a constant exchange of both positives and negatives in working a garden. It is more obvious to me as I am older, but I must flow with both the successes and the failures… which more often seem just an illusion of my own making.
So many years of no fruit from my sweet cherries and the destruction of one of the trees in entirety by Japanese beetles, only to have a flush of beautiful fruit on one of the trees this year.
The loss of a tree can produce an area of light; the loss of branches becomes a plethora of fruit; cool temperatures are a delay of one type of plant while prolonging the bloom of another.
We don’t always have everything figured out and our subjective view often lacks wisdom.
The Garden Now
My dream of a gardened place has given way to that of a planted place. It also is more derelict than I would like.
As gardeners we all harbor a vision of ‘The Secret Garden’ somewhere in our mind. Long neglected, the earth with just a little care springs forth as Eden. The reality might be closer to blood, sweat, and tears.
But the lesson of “late starts”, as taught in the garden, is that the outcome may surprise you and the only failure is to not to have tried.
For all its work, the storms, pests, and losses, there is nothing so peace nurturing, soul satisfying, and restorative as the hours spent puttering in the garden.