A common mistake in life, in my life anyway is relying too heavily on Newton’s first law of motion. An object in motion stays in motion, unless an external force is applied to it. That external force can be a real bitch.
I left my garden for a week and things just kept on growing, as expected. However, I did not take into (enough) consideration the proximity problem. Which is to say, my pumpkins and cucumbers started crawling in with my tomatoes, my tomatoes were all over each other and the pole beans were actually jumping poles and climbing up their neighbors’. All of this intermingling then caused other plants to start getting choked out, like the marigolds and basil growing beneath the tomatoes as well as some of the pole beans who didn’t take too kindly to having their turf compromised.
I just expected everything to stay on track and grow and blossom. I thought I had done enough tending that I didn't need to worry about it much. I didn’t spend enough time thinking about how easy it can be for life to run astray. How external forces might trip up what was otherwise a nicely flowing forward momentum of growth.
In order for life to follow along the right path it is not enough to set things in motion and leave it to do the right thing on it’s own without further intervention. Attention and care is necessary to keep things moving in the right direction. Not to mention culling trouble makers who can’t seem to respect spatial boundaries.
On the upside, there is still harvest. I’ve pulled more potatoes and snow peas, as well as green beans, purple beans, purple striped beans and garlic from my garden. My yields haven’t been as good as they could have been and some of the plants have died because of lack of care but everything else is hanging in there. All is not lost by any means; just a lot of disappointment to contend with because I had such high hopes that things were going along so well. It's hard to learn that things aren't as perfect as you thought they were.
Life lesson learned: If you want things to stay on course, you have to keep an eye on them. So if external variables knock them off track, you can make corrections before everything really gets away from you.
I’ve heard people say how much fun it is to harvest potatoes. I’m not sure who, exactly, but somewhere at some point I must have because it is in my head. Regardless, the idea of squatting down digging up dirty food just didn’t seem all that exciting. Then I dug a few carrots last summer, well, precarrots anyway and I started to get it. Carrots have nothing on potatoes, let me just tell you.
First of all, I’m not even sure if it is supposed to be potato harvesting season yet. Unlike vegetables that shout their ripeness from amidst their green foliage, potatoes just kind of linger underground waiting to be discovered whenever you’re ready. Well, I wasn’t ready yet but in one of my potato areas all of the greens started falling over and turning yellow. Even with my limited experience as a gardener, I do not take that as a good sign. Healthy things don’t lie in the dirt and turn yellow. As a matter of fact, I believe that is a universal sign of sick. I’m pretty sure that is what I looked like after my sister took me out for my 21st birthday many moons ago. (By the way, I begged her to leave me in said dirt and she wouldn’t. That’s love, I tell you.)
Anyway, I decided to investigate. I started digging around underneath the fallen stalks and voilà all of a sudden I was holding a perfect little red potato. Contrasted with the darkness of the dirt, it shone as much as any tomato or red pepper might. It was downright gorgeous. So, I dug for more. I would wiggle my hand under a clump of dirt and kind of shake it as I lifted it up and I would be holding a handful of potatoes. Just like that, out of the ground and everything. My kids were digging with me and said it was like magic. I couldn’t have agreed more.
Unfortunately, under some of the stalks was the initial potato the plant grew from and it was all rotted and covered with bugs. My hunch is that was the cause of the sick look. I did not use seed potatoes even though all of the books recommended them. I didn’t get why it was necessary. It would appear I now have the answer.
Not only were there gross bug covered rotting potatoes, but my harvest seemed to be cut a little short too. A lot of the potatoes I was pulling up were the size of grapes. Also, the plants had lots more tiny potato buds starting on their roots. I assume they would have grown a lot more potatoes if they were not surrounded by ick, but they were, so they just laid down and gave up in disgust. Still, I have some potatoes. And they aren’t covered in any kind of ick. They are beautiful.
As for the mint, that is actually another story. Early this spring, before the hubs built my raised beds, I was planting things in the existing overgrown, neglected beds just so I could put seeds in the ground somewhere. One of said beds had a mint problem. I don’t know if there is some gardening proverb about mint but there should be. Really I think mint has adopted its own motto: Veni, vidi, vici. The stuff is ridiculous. I completely understand why someone long ago decided to boil it.
The summary of my mint diatribe is this: I pulled up what I was hoping to be all of the mint roots from that garden (Ha!) and I took them, the leaves covering everything, and a mostly rotten tree stump and threw it all in a pile in the woods hoping nature would reclaim it. Well, nature just left it there in a clump, presumably sick of mint herself. So I figured I'd better spread it out a little. What do you think I found? That’s right, the mint managed to plant itself right there under the pile in the woods. Unbelievable. Tenacity, thy name is mint.
Life lesson learned: Once you start digging, you never know what you are going to find.
Operation 10,000 steps is not going well. As in, I’ve given up. I have lost my high priced jockey. That’s two down. I think this second one might have gone AWOL out of sheer boredom. It turns out that even when counting steps, I’m not active. My average was about 7,000 steps/day. At least I solved yet another mystery of my weight problem, so it wasn’t a total loss. I take about 3,000 too few steps per day for just a basic level of health. Good to know.
At first I was upset the thing was gone but now I’m relieved. The problem with a person of wide girth wearing a pedometer is two fold: 1. Pants tend to roll down round bellies. The pedometer rolls with them then pops off at inopportune moments. and 2. When sitting, the clip jabs into your side. It is an uncomfortable reminder of both flabbiness and pedometer wearing.
So what have we learned so far about staying overweight? 1. A paid for but unused gym membership does not result in weight loss. 2. A pedometer (whether paid for or not) that tells you how lazy you are does not result in weight loss. Neither does: 3. Graphing your weight every day. 4. Keeping a food diary à la Weight Watchers. 5. Trying to eat low carb but regularly eating bread and pasta anyway. 6. Having the P90X DVDs on a shelf in the living room. 7. Having a treadmill in the basement. 8. Giving up entirely and eating whatever. 9. Writing down how much weight I want to lose every January 1st.
I think I might be getting close to a breakthrough here. As evidenced by all these numbered lists, this has become very scientific. Before you know it, I’ll have figured out everything you can do that will not result in weight loss. Perhaps I should write a journal article.
Lest I sound too negative, though, here is the complete list of things I have done that actually did result in weight loss: 1. Chemotherapy 2. Walking to and from college. 3. Spending an hour at the gym every day to avoid cold calling. 4. Eating around 30 carbs/day. 5. Delivering a baby. 6. Eating nothing from the grocery store, only market food.
So all is not lost; I have some options here. But, no more jockeys.
Most if not all of the gardening books I’ve read tout the importance of mulching. The warmth, the nutrients, the weed suppression, the water conservation; mulching is your best friend they say. Well, I’m here to tell you those gardeners probably did not write that on a day they actually mulched. I would go so far as to say, not even the same week. I mulched two days ago and we are not friends. Friends don’t make friends’ shoulders ache. In time, I might forgive the mulch but first, it’s going to have to do a thing or two for me. Yes, I’m talking kickbacks. Show me the tomatoes you pile of rotten wood. I’m sure our relationship will improve with time but for now that mulch is lucky it looks good.
Besides tucking my greenlings in for the summer there is another fun adventure happening in my garden. Since the snow peas are having children of their own now, I figured I better refocus my attention before the inevitable happens. Well, I’ve moved on to pole beans. It turns out, I really like plants that want to reach out and grab on to something. It makes this gardening thing more of a two way street. Yes, I’ll support you, but you are the one that is going to have to make the climb. And the pole beans are so up for the challenge. No sooner did the poles go in the ground than they were wrapping their little feelers up the thing and curving around. Fascinating.
The hubs said it reminded him of Jack and the Beanstalk and it took us both a couple of beats to realize well, duh. The sad reality though, is that the story is real to us, but the actual bean plants are a novelty. We stood next to our bean garden just amazed at how far they grew up sticks overnight. It was like a sideshow.
Throughout my ridiculously picky childhood the only two vegetables I would eat were corn and green beans. And the green beans only if they were canned. I’m embarrassed by it now but once I went to a friend’s house for dinner and my rude self asked her mother if the green beans were fresh. Not because I would only eat fresh (which my friend’s mom no doubt assumed), but because I would only eat processed. Oh the horror. It was like a double faux pas. The beans were frozen. I wouldn’t eat them either. Make that triple.
Expanding both my palate and understanding of such a basic part of life, that is food, have been enlightening corollaries to my gardening e. First of all, if I grow it, I’m eating it. There is no way I’m putting that much work into something and not reaping benefits. If all else fails, I’ll throw it in soup. That may be problematic with the beets, but I’ll figure something out. My sister has a beet cake recipe.
However, the more ethereal perk is the plethora of epiphanies this new relationship with nature has provided. Not just gosh, I could see how some Englishman would see a beanstalk climbing toward the sky and invent a fairy tale now that I see how beanstalks work; but life needs to be lived to be understood. Reading fairy tales will only get you so far.
I like to throw things.