A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about her vegetable garden – what she was growing, how it was doing, and what problems she’d had with pests and lack of rain. Overall, things seemed to be going well, but she said something in passing that resonated in the back of my mind and haunted me as I tended my own garden days later.
“I’m really good at the growing,” she smiled. “It’s just all the harvesting I never seem to get around to.”
Sadly, I would hasten a guess that there are more than a few fellow gardeners out there – eyes lowered and heads down in shame – who could echo this statement.
With the first rains of spring, the light is lit within us to get out there, get dirty and get planting. Days are cool, moisture is abundant and winter was horrific – our one and only thought is to chop fresh salsa and sauté green beans until the summer sun sinks low on the horizon.
Then reality comes knocking. Pest populations become overwhelming. Rain is not forthcoming. Blackberry canes take over the back quarter of the property and the weeds stage a coup in the chard bed. When you do manage to get yourself out to the vegetables, the mozzies and gnats go to town on your ankles and it feels like you are running an obstacle course to get a decent tomato on the table. Before you know it the beans have gone to seed and you were never able to pick one, much less sauté it.
And I haven’t even mentioned the heat yet.
The further the season progresses, the more overwhelmed you feel, especially when you pick up a glossy mag in the supermarket checkout line and hear how Janie Gardenmaster canned 600 pints of tomatoes in an afternoon and still had time to throw together an informal vegetarian dinner party for eight using produce from her two acre plot. Oh and did she mention the brick greenhouse she’s currently building with vintage six-pane windows?
Feeling a trifle inadequate? A few points to consider before we tackle the problem of the harvest:
- Summer is hot, often humid, and definitely humorless – but it happens every year to a garden near you…guaranteed.
- It is self-esteem suicide to read those magazines. They portray lifeSTYLES not life. Keep both hands firmly on the shopping cart and your eyes straight ahead at all times.
- Whether it’s wasted work or wasted food, waste is a terrible thing and to be avoided. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone – but it’s time to reassess what you can and can’t do and make some constructive changes towards the ultimate goal of living within your ability to cope gracefully and cope well.
We all garden for different reasons, and those reasons will determine the size of our garden, the time we spend on our garden, and what we hope to gain from our garden. So with that in mind…