These past couple of weeks I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I’m not sure what triggered it, and I can’t really put my finger on what, exactly, I’m feeling. I just feel a bit blue. Perhaps the recent bout of constant rain and gray weather is what got me down. But thankfully, today it’s glorious outside and I found myself motivated to work in my newly planted vegetable garden.
I’ve been planting vegetables the last several years since moving to the South, first in my previous home which had a large lot, and the last couple of years in my new home in a more urban neighborhood with a smaller yard. Each year I learn something new about the process and about myself in the hopes that my garden will improve and yield a better crop than the year before. It’s a “two steps forward, one step back,” sort of process. Dealing with nature means being ready for the unexpected. Haha, an oxymoron for sure. What I mean is, I need to learn to roll with things as they come and be better at living in the moment and problem solving as things present themselves.
Last summer, was the year of the stink bug infestation. Previous years I did battle with the evil vine borer. This year, well, I’ve tried to prepare the beds with food and nutrients, along with some, shall we say, unsavory additives to ward off another invasion. But who knows what’s lurking beneath the soil, in the trees, or what those cute but pesky little bunnies hopping in the neighborhood bring with them as they sneak in for a nibble. I guess it’s a sign of my true optimism that every year I try again, not knowing what will happen, but believing that I’ll grow right along with my garden. And most years I do have some victories. Last year in spite of those stink bugs, I did have five beautiful pumpkins. In fact, I still have some of the cooked insides waiting in the freezer to be turned into scones, pies, bread and jam. I also had a bumper crop of heirloom cherry tomatoes, and still have a few sweet potatoes left in the basement. So, there are rewards to be sure.
One important lesson I learned last year is that my tendency toward going big doesn’t always work. Of course, this isn’t news to me, but the overflowing beds really illustrated the problem. After planting zucchini, pumpkins, cucumbers and spaghetti squash all in the same 4×4 raised bed, it was easy to see I hadn’t planned well for their growth. Before long, they were all tangled in each other and as the summer progressed, they spilled out onto the surrounding lawn, some of the plants rooting themselves into the grass. The morning dew made for some soggy vegetables and some rot on the vines. So, while early in the season I was sure there’d be enough room, I learned that when it comes to planting vegetables, less is definitely more. This season, I’ve exercised some restraint and kept the beds sparser, allowing room for growth. I also plan to experiment with trellises and vertical gardening for the squash and cucumbers. And I’m taking a break from the pumpkins. Too heartbreaking if they don’t make it. See? I’m managing expectations!
As the season progresses, I’m excited to observe how my newly learned lessons help the process. I’m hopeful, as always, for a better year than last. I’m also certain to face challenges. And I just know I’ll learn something new. Can’t wait!
About Barbara Dab
Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood. Check it out at www.nashvillepilatescompany.com. She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors. Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com. If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.
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