The things that keep me awake these summer nights have been few, but one of those has been the garden. It has become a point of fixation for me. I now leave my garden journal beside my bed, because I so often fall asleep thinking of a great idea, or thing to remember, so I sit up, turn on the light, and write it out quickly before letting my brain succumb to sleep at the end of a long day.
I have centred my morning ritual around watering the plants. I love the slow process and checking in to see how my ripening vegetables are coming along. This week, I have delighted in gathering blueberries off my mother's day bush to sprinkle on our cereal. The strawberries are done, the tomatoes are just beginning to turn colour, and the jury's still out on the broccoli after a caterpillar infestation.
I thought it would be really cute to include the girls in the garden, and I do, but I have really come to regard the garden as a personal project, because it gives me so much joy. I diligently added nutrients to the soil when the tomato leaves showed signs of yellowing, sprinkling bone meal and topping it with fresh soil and water. I continue to find caterpillars and pluck them off one by one, hoping the remaining leaves will sufficiently photosynthesize and we will eat home-grown broccoli. I make plans and pin recipes for all the tomatoes and zucchinis I hope to harvest. I have hung lavender to dry, and arranged fresh flowers on our table each day.
I am pleased that my girls will eat greens that come from the garden, if only because they cut and washed them on their own. I feel so rewarded when I see that a little extra water is making all the difference with my fledgling rhubarb plant. The rewards of gardening are all very tacit metaphors for life. You reap what you sow. Hard work yields results. The best laid plans are subject to the fates.
I have made some big-time errors in gardening this year, like not drilling holes into containers and planting too many seeds too close together. I have also turned those boo-boos into great plans for nourishing the soil this fall and and how to plant crops next year. Having a garden makes this house feel like more of a home. It aligns me more closely with the forecast and, in turn, nature. It teaches me patience and to laugh when things go wrong. It inspires me to find more home-made solutions to problems and wants before turning to the stores or hiring help.
I have learned what I know so far from trial and error, Mother Earth Living magazine's tips, and asking neighbours what has worked for them. I now know I prefer heirloom seeds, I know how big a crop my containers can sustain, I know I want many more basil plants next year to support my pesto habit, I know the chives should come back, but the sage won't, unless I bring it indoors. I know soil needs food too, and I have collected worms on rainy days with the girls to add to our raised beds-- they are nature's best composters! There is a lot I don't know, too, and that's what keeps it interesting.