I have always had this dream or “bucket list” wish of having a garden. I loved the idea of “living off the land”…or at least growing my own veggies and enjoying a salad with the fruits of my own labour. My Grandma had a green thumb, as did my mom. Actually my entire maternal side of the family was pretty good at it since they are all Mennonites and that’s pretty much what they did back in the day. So I figured, maybe it got passed down to me too? Maybe?
I remember mom having a garden growing up and all the work that she would put into it. She would even can her tomatoes to make homemade pasta sauce and pickle the cucumbers for homemade pickles.
Years ago, I made my first attempt at gardening. I gathered some second hand teacups and planted herbs. I planted the seeds, labelled them so I knew which was which and then placed them on the window sill. And then waited (rather impatiently) for the first sign of life. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I just used common sense…I watered them when they seemed too dry and left them up in the window sill to catch some rays. I checked on them every day. Multiple times a day. Until after a few weeks went by and I started to see some green! I was so excited! I had done it! I created life!
The plants continued to grow until they got quite a few inches above the soil. I could even start to smell the aromas of all of the herbs. Rosemary, Dill, Oregano etc. I had about five or six-ish or so that were growing beautifully and smelling delicious!! And then…it happened.
The cat. It was the cat’s fault. His name was Spaz (because he was one) and one day got it in his head to jump up on to the windowsill, knocking over my beautiful little herb garden. I was so crushed. All that work and time. Wasted. In frustration, I dumped out what was left of the mangled plants and that was that. I was so discouraged I never bothered trying again…until now.
This year, I have the opportunity to have a veggie garden. I’ve bought the seeds, I’ve asked a bazillion questions and done the research. I’ve planned out which veggies I’ll plant where, I’ve tilled the soil. It’s much more than just some herbs in teacups. I’ve definitely “up’d the ante”, which makes me nervous but I’m also excited again to see what can come from it. To try again.
We recently had a perfect weekend to be out in the garden. The weather felt like summertime already. It’s still too early to plant most things, but there are some veggies that actually prefer the cooler climate and do quite well in it. Two of those are Spinach and Kale. Two veggies that are SO good for you and I especially love Spinach. I basically eat them like chips…just raw out of the container. Yum!!
I put on my oversized overalls and my galoshes and my wide brimmed straw hat. Yeah, I went full on “farmer in the dell.” It’s super cheesy and I love it! I mixed in some fertilizer, tilled the soil where I would be planting and planted my seeds in neat little rows; marked by Popsicle sticks and twine. I was so proud of myself. And then…it happened…again.
Later that evening there was a smidge of a wind storm. Somewhere in the middle of the night the wind must have knocked over the piece of wood that was put in place of the opening to the garden. (The actual gate hadn’t been installed yet.) When I checked in on my newly planted crops, I was heartsick to find that not only had the wind knocked over the temporary wooden “gate” but that the dog (a one year old Rottweiler named Vader) had taken this as an invitation to let himself in and make himself at home…in the garden!
While I couldn’t find any evidence of Vader digging up the dirt (thank God!), he did manage to leave several of his paw prints in the soil. Also to my horror, some of my neatly marked out rows of twine were unearthed and scattered. Whether that was the windstorm or the guilty mutt, we may never know.
My heart sank as I surveyed the crime scene. I felt so discouraged all over again. Bringing back memories of the teacup incident. It wasn’t even officially planting season yet and the first two things I planted where stomped on. In my frustration I left it alone for a couple of days. (And although I have since forgiven him, the pup and I were, for a time, not on speaking terms)
A few days later, when the weather was nicer and I had mustered up some gumption, I went out to the garden, knelt down in front of it and proceeded to straighten up the rows and the disheveled dirt, watered it and this time there was no way for “unwanted” visitors to nosy their way in.
I was/ am determined to try again. Even after getting stomped on, I made the decision to try again. It’s never easy. It’s a choice. This garden is something I’ve always wanted and my hope is that if I do it right, it will yield a decent harvest. If I put in the work and the effort and do what I know I can do, let the sun and the rain and the soil do their thing, that nature will take over and do it’s thing and give me back something in return.
But even after all of that, it’s never a guarantee. There are so many variables. Especially because this is technically my first time having an actual garden. I’m learning all the time. Kind of like this human experience called life. So many things can make us feel discouraged and deflated. Life can be hard in so many ways that it can also feel like you’re getting stomped on, knocked down, over and over again. It takes courage to get back up. To get back out there and try again. Whether it’s growing a garden, a career, a family, a relationship or pursuing a dream. It takes gumption to push past the frustration and the fear from your past experiences and give it another shot. To really go all in.
And although it can be scary, it’s the only way to really live this life in a big way. Anything worth having requires that kind of “all in” mindset. That pick yourself up, blow the dust off, try again kind of mindset. Doing what you CAN do, learning as you grow (garden pun intended), and leaving the “seemingly impossible” stuff up to God.
So with that, I will keep trying. As gardening season approaches I will continue to till the soil, plant the seeds, feed it water and sunshine, pull the weeds. As many times as I need to. To keep at it, until one day soon, I start to see signs of life. At that point, the relentless choice of trying over and over again, no matter what tries to deter you (dogs included) will be well worth it. As anything good usually is.