Looking out over the garden beds; I wanted to cry. Like, really sit on the ground and cry......but, let’s back up.
It was May and I was itching to get my garden beds planted and full of life giving plants. Lush and green, standing tall and bushy. But…it’s May. These tiny seeds in my hands won’t be lush and green until maybe July.
I looked down at my seed stores and separated them into what should be planted now and what I will wait on ’til mid summer. ( Last year the squash borer decimated my squash plants in a matter of days…just as they were ripening…it was maddening). So, this year I decided I would wait til mid summer and plant my zucchini and yellow squash.
With seed packets scattered all over the table, rain upon rain upon rain, and deciding to rotate my crops for a better harvest....I was beginning to feel like Noah and the Ark. Can we just get a couple days of sun so I can get this food forest planted and growing?
I had to remind myself that life is a little scattered sometimes. It isn’t all nice and neat in rows. And that’s ok. Just like a garden, life needs its seasons. It demands them. Without seasons how do we grow? How do we break the soil, soften the seed, find nourishment from the sun and the rain and how do we embrace hot days, relentless rain, bugs, deer, rodents, and all the other challenges that come with growing?
It’s with grace and grit.
And that, my friend, is where we start.
Grace & Grit
Take a WILD guess as to what I learned this summer? You know what's coming, dontcha?
My son in law planted the newest blueberry bushes on the edge of the garden. They were incredibly tall and full. I was looking forward to ripe, juicy berries. They were all lined up near the garden. Swaying in the breeze and promising sweet summer, succulent juice running down the chin. The deer thought so too.
I needed to rotate my crops this year. So, I planted my tomatoes in my top garden bed along with kale and peppers. I planted my beans (over 400 plants) in the 2 center beds and then another bed with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, cabbage and marigolds.
Marigolds…they were prolific this year! HUGE! And almost dwarfed the peppers! They do a bang up job at keeping the hornworms at bay….at least that’s what I tell myself.
I ended up with over 20 tomato plants, some heirloom (which was the first time my heirloom tomato plants have ever grown and produced a tomato.) BUT…y’all! That heirloom chocolate tomato was N-A-S-T-Y. BLECH! I ended up throwing all those tomatoes…there was like only 3... to the chickens. They apparently have no taste buds. They devoured them…little raptors. And some were volunteers…apropos for our Volunteer State. These volunteers are resilient and hardy and man do they make some good tasting tomatoes.
Tomatoes were exploding. Cucumbers curling up the vine and coming in nicely. Peppers trying to do their thing. Beans looking swanky. OH….wait…..what happened to the beans? Those 400 bean plants???????
Just yesterday there were two beds coming up nicely. Two 4x12 beds looking lush and full. But today….every last plant was eaten to the ground.
I was so devastated that I didn’t even take a picture.
I stood and stared. I looked around the garden, as if asking myself where they may have gone?
What the heck? Yesterday they were thriving, today they look like the weed eater went haywire. Like Johnny Scissor Hands got lost and hungry.
Why, I asked myself…why does this have to be so stinking hard!?! Now, I have to plant those 2 beds ALL.OVER.AGAIN. And, I’ve just lost about 3 weeks of the growing season.
Back to the local co-op I go as I don’t have time to wait on a seed order. And, I need pounds of seed. Not just a couple packets.
Seeds in hand I planted them in the hot sun (not the best time) watered and waited. Around 7 days in they began to sprout. I was watching them like a hawk. I talked to them, babied them with water and lots of positive encouragement. Days turned into weeks and they were looking mighty fine.
Each morning I walk out to the garden before my clients show up in the gym. I walk the rows of plants and talk to them, check for bugs, disease, growth…you know…all the normal plant responsibilities. It excites me to watch the process. It’s so much like life. Ebbs and flows.
This particular morning I had to train first then afterwards headed out to see what kind of growth was taking place. I scared a critter and he scared me! Running as quick as a ground hog could, I see him/her scurry under the shed.
GAH!!! My BEANS! This critter thinks my bean plants are a free deli with an "OPEN" for dinner sign. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING!
I was jumping up and down like a hot mess. UGH!!! How many times do I need to replant these green beans? Thankfully, it was only about 50 plants…but 50 plants!
Now, I know I am sharing my deli with a ground hog. Hmmmm….
This means war. I left the ground hog and went to buy row covers. After installing the row cover I felt all smug. But, it worked. No more eating my bean plants.
But the deer…..the deer….those beautiful deer. I’d like to put them in my freezer. I KNOW…not very GRACE like.
THEY ATE EVERY LAST BLUEBERRY BUSH! Can I use SCREAM NOW?
Row covers. Row covers are now my friend. If you come to my garden...be prepared to see white row covers keeping the wild ones at bay.
Gardens teach us grace and grit. If you spend anytime in a garden, growing a garden or harvesting one....you will know you need both.
Life is teaching me to embrace its every move.
Ps. Did you know I can help you create the garden of your dreams? If you are still wondering how to grow that food, where to put that garden or you may want to know how to live more sustainably…..then let’s chat.
From homestead demonstrations to workshops to classes and designs I gotcha covered.
Oh! And if you are local (East TN) I am hosting a CANNING 101 CLASS on the homestead.