Every year I plant a vegetable garden, and every year it follows the same story arc:
- My seed catalogue arrives, and I'm filled with excitement over all the possibilities. What will I grow this year?
- After much deliberation I place my order. My overriding emotion at this point is anticipation.
- The seeds arrive, and then the day comes when it's time to start them. Mood: hopeful.
- The first sprouts poke through the dirt, and I experience awe at the tiny miracle of wee little plants.
- I start hardening off my little seedlings, and plant my first seeds outside. I am once again hopeful, and dreaming of the harvest.
- The first sprouts poke through the dirt outdoors, and there's more awe.
- A week or two later, I notice that many of the seedlings I started inside and planted in my garden have missing leaves, and many of the sprouts from the seeds I direct-sowed have disappeared altogether. I feel murderous rage towards the creature that ate them, and despair that all my hard work was for naught.
- I take measures to protect my wee plants against slugs and bugs, and re-sow where I can. I am resolute.
- Some of my plants pull through! I will have some vegetables after all! I am still angry at the garden pests, but I am no longer filled with despair.
- The first veggies are ready for harvest, and I am happy once again. The lost crops are forgotten amidst the amazing tastes of fresh produce, and my feelings of accomplishment.
|These plants sadly didn't make it|
Gardening, for me, is an exercise in patience and letting go of the outcome. It's something that I have to re-learn every year. I can't get too attached to any particular seed I plant. I have to look at each failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. Did I put the plants out too early? Did I not water as often as I should? Did I water too much? How could I have better protected my plants? Each time something goes wrong, there's a lesson to be learned. It's a hard lesson, though.
Today is Victoria Day in Canada, which is traditionally a day for gardening. It's unfortunate that I'm currently at step 7, but maybe it's also fitting. After all, gardening is an exercise in connecting with the planet. It doesn't always go smoothly. You need to be aware of the rhythms of nature, of what works in your particular garden, of when to reap and when to sow. And even still, things can go wrong. Weather can be unpredictable. Crops can fail.
My garden is a mixed bag, because Mother Nature has a mind of her own. On balance, though, she knows what she's doing. If we can learn to follow her lead, in the end we'll make it to step 10, when the first bite of fresh carrot helps us forget all of our failures.
How do you handle crop failures? I could use tips and moral support!