Monday, July 8, 2013
How Does Your Garden Grow...
I started planning my garden in January of this year. Every trip to Wal-Mart meant a quick run through the garden center to see if the seed packs were in yet. I started gathering starting mix in early February, got seeds for my birthday in mid-February, and by the last week of February I was turning dirt (...while it was snowing on me...I'm sure that if the neighbors could have seen me, they would have been laughing.)
I built raised beds this year, filled them with organic matter and straw just like the magazines said to, and got ready to put out my brassicas (I also found out "brassica" is the fancy word for the cabbage family). I took a steel rod and drove it into the ground a half inch deep, every 2-3" in a row, so I could put my sweet peas out February 20th, just like the planting guide said to. I needed the steel rod because the stupid ground is still frozen on February 20th.
As soon as I could, I began to set out tomatoes and squash, beans and peas, cucumbers and peppers, onions, garlic, kohlrabi, and more squash and more peppers and...and...and...
Then I waited.
It kept snowing. The rain kept coming. The nights were still frosty. April came...more snow...more rain...more cold nights. May...yep, one more snow shower...more rain...more frost... Finally, the weather started turning around, it began to warm up a little, and I started getting excited. My garden was finally going to start growing. But it didn't. Frustrating it was (In my best Yoda voice).
Then today, it hit me. I really don't know what the hell I'm doing when it comes to gardening. In fact, I really don't know what the hell I'm doing when it comes to a lot of stuff. Then something else hit me...I think I'm finally ok with that.
Last week, I walked out into my tomato patch and noticed my Roma tomatoes were looking a little sickly. I thought they were dry, so I watered them. This morning, I walked back out and noticed my Roma tomatoes were looking a lot sickly. This time, I asked somebody. Well, I asked the online experts, and found out that it wasn't because they were dry. It was because of a fungus named Alternaria. The online experts said I might be able to save my Romas organically by keeping them clean and misting the leaves with a diluted vinegar solution. We'll see.
It's not just tomatoes. Or corn that's yellow instead of emerald green. Or sweet potatoes that did absolutely jack and squat. Or Yukon gold potatoes that gave me a gallon of potatoes instead of the hundred pounds I had planned to store this winter. It's folks coming to me with problems that most folks only see in their nightmares, and not knowing if I can help them or not. It's spending a month working on a truck that I still haven't fixed. It's trying to find some way to balance work, home, self and knowing that none of them are getting what they really need. But at the end of the day, it's plain and simply the inability to stop and say, "I don't know what I'm doing. Could you help me?" If you
don't know me, then you don't know how bad I suck at doing that.
One of my professors in seminary told me once, "Find something you enjoy and become an expert at it. Read everything you can get your hands on about it. Study it. Learn about it. Live it." So I did. I started collecting gardening magazines and read about how a floating row cover would keep the vine borer moth out of my squash but would still let bees in to pollinate the flowers (It didn't come right out and say vine borer moths were dumber than bees, but it hinted at it). I learned that no matter how much I may read, or how much I think I may know, at the end of the day, the only people who can really help are the ones who have been there before, and the ones I'm willing to let myself ask for help.
It doesn't matter how much more someone else may know, if I can't let myself ask them for help, I'll just keep slamming my head into the wall. Gardening is a lot of work. So are relationships. So are fixing things that are broken. So is getting back up when everything in you says, "I just want to quit."
So, how does my garden grow? Right now it looks a little puny. If you have any ideas, I'm open to suggestions. Why? Because I have finally realized that I don't know how to do everything and I'm willing to ask for help.