Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: The Grumpy Gardener

Welcome to Bigger Picture Moments, a place where we step back and take in life. There are moments where we’re so caught up in it all, the hectic, mind-boggling pace of the day. but here we encourage you to take a moment and view the Bigger Picture. Whatever that means to you. A moment where you recognized the role your faith plays in your every day life. A moment where you take note of motherhood and the importance of what you are doing. A moment that made you stop and breathe in the bigness of it all -- the hugeness that is life and all the small moments adding up to one Bigger Picture.

We hope you’ll join us! Take a few moments, think about your week, and pour however little or much onto a page. Then share. Melissa is hosting this week, so head over to her place to tell us about your moment. Link up, grab our button, and share your Bigger Picture Moment. And while you’re at it, share the love and check out at least one other participant’s moment, too! Maegan will be hosting next week, so keep an open mind and heart throughout the week and come back to participate again or for the first time! All are welcome!

Have you ever planted a garden?  In case you haven't, here's how it goes:

The patch of ground you choose needs to be carefully prepared in the cool springtime.  You'll stir some rich compost into the crumbly dirt, raking it around and deciding where each future vegetable will grow.  Arms full of tiny, leafy starter plants and baggies of seeds, you'll be ready.  You'll sprinkle pin-head sized lettuce seeds onto the damp soil.  Poke holes in which to rest the green bean seeds.  Scoop mounds of dirt over the tomato plant's roots. 

And then you'll wait.  Months will pass.  Your garden will change and possibly flourish -- one can never know for sure.  It's the waiting, the hoping, the wondering that makes me so happy about a garden. 

But in my waiting, I never really consider TOTAL failure.  Things may grow oddly or produce less fruit than I'd hoped, but it will still be there.  Still a garden of promise. 

This year, however, my garden is not promising.  Its promise has been stamped out at every pass.  First, my spinach was gnawed by unseen bugs.  Then, my romaine was worthless because of my own ignorance about the best planting widths.  The zinnias in a pot on one corner (just for the bright beauty of them!) died one scathingly hot day when I forgot to water them.  The broccoli produced enough for two side dishes, which was nice, but surely they should have grown better than that?

The few things left to me -- tomatoes, red bell peppers, and green beans -- had all my hopes pinned on them. 

I walked outside to check on them a few nights ago just as another storm was approaching from the west.  We've been having enough rain lately that it's been over a week since I had to water the garden, so I hadn't stood over the plants to admire their progress for several days.  What I saw crushed me.

The ends of all the tomato plant branches had been chewed off.  Something -- a deer? a raccoon? -- had eaten my baby tomatoes.  And the green beans were in bad shape, too.  There were more bug-eaten leaves than whole leaves, and any beans left on the plants were short and curled in on themselves, as if they'd given up all hope of surviving.  The peppers -- the strong, hardy peppers -- were the only remaining promise in my garden now.  My hopeful spring planting and tending had left me with four pepper plants, and nothing else.

I stalked around the yard, squinting my eyes past the fence into the woods, shooting angry daggers at whatever had taken advantage of my hard work. 

The next day, I pulled on Justin's heavy work gloves and marched to the backyard to do some surgery: the bitten and ravaged plants had to go.  Yanking and pulling, throwing clods of dirt and sprays of leaves behind me, I cleared most of the garden.  My arms ached from tearing strong broccoli roots from the dirt.  My legs itched from the spindly plants brushing past on their way to the ground.  I was sweating and scowling and enjoying every minute of my temper tantrum. 

Later, after washing my hands in cold water, I felt better.  The black dirt in the garden was pitted and tossed around, but it was a clear space again for the most part.  It could rest until next spring, when I vowed to try again, and DO BETTER. 

Because what would the struggle of gardening be worth in the first place, if I didn't learn something for next time?  That's got to be the one, minuscule, faintly pulsing pin-prick of light at the end of the tunnel: I learned from my mishaps and I'll do a better job next year. 

But those tomato-eating critters have GOT to go.


  1. My husband and I considered our first garden this summer, early in spring. We thought it would be a great lesson for our oldest, and something we could all together. We looked at the obvious area in our yard to put it and discussed all the work it would take to get it ready. We walked away and said maybe next year. All this to say, you should be PROUD that you tried at all. Well done, I'm amazed by people like you who give it a go despite everything else there is to do.

  2. Oh man! But hey, maybe you could take advantage of all your space and plant something for the fall, like pumpkins?

  3. I think you've got the right attitude... but my oh my how frustrating! I remember a few years of my mother doing the same thing (she always had a little garden) but every now and then it just wouldn't happen.
    And then the next year it was always more fruitful than imagined :)

  4. If I posted a picture of our garden ... I swear you would feel so much better.

    anD we have racoons so I feel your pain.

  5. My grandma swore that leaving the hair from your brush around the garden would keep deer away. I don't know.
    I am a forgetful gardener. To live here, you must be strong. But we keep trying. Maybe I'll be better next year too.

  6. I feel your pain! My garden this year has been so disappointing. A really really late, wet spring in Oregon meant a lot of things just never got a chance to grow. Slugs ate almost all my green beans. My spinach didn't do anything at all. My tomatoes have some mysterious leaf-curl problem (although they're still growing. Cross your fingers). And I think my potatoes have blight. Zucchini, I'm putting all my faith in you! If I can't even grow zucchini, I'm doomed.

  7. I hope it goes better next summer. Bravo for your good attitude and work ethic! I grew up with a huge garden and don't have one now. I miss fresh tomatoes and green beans from the garden!

  8. Oh I feel for you, or at least I would if I could make it out to my garden to see my plants. We seem to alternate between crippling steamy over 100 degree heat and massive swarms of mosquitoes draining all my blood!

  9. Lol! I feel you! This gardening stuff is so emotion-provoking.
    Also, it's given me new insight into that part in Genesis where it says people will have to toil with the land. Um, YEAH. Ain't that the truth.

  10. I've never tried to plant a garden--my backyard is concrete and fire escape. I've tried to grow herbs on my windowsill and they die every year, but each time they last a bit longer and I get a few more meals out of them. Good luck next year!

  11. Years ago, I worked with a lady that came to work each day upset that the animals were eating her carrots and tomatoes. I suggested that maybe she should put some lawn chairs out there and enjoy the animals instead. She looked at me funny but you know she did it. From that point forward, she planted her garden with the understanding that she was sharing it with her furry friends. :)

    If you plant marigolds around the perimeter, you will find that it will keep the rabbits away.

  12. Try planting some marigolds for the bugs. If you have some randomly through the rows, you won't have as many bugs eating your vegetable leaves.

  13. Well...isn't that just life in a nut shell??!! xo


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?