Can we get real for a minute?
It's about my garden.
And who knows. Maybe everything else that matters.
You see, I went through a major deer-in-headlights phase with my vegetable garden this spring and I think I've come out on the other side. Not because I "won" but because I stopped striving for perfection. For "pretty". For as good as someone else's.
For a while every time I saw someone's picture-perfect garden I cringed.
They have rich, crumbly black earth; I have a worn-out, compacted pasture. They have a weedless wonderland where everyone behaves; I have green anarchy – bindweed, and thistle. They have long, orderly rows of vegetables; I have chaos. They have prayer flags dancing in the summer breeze, I have 'rustic' pea trellises that blew over in the first storm.
And while I know that no one's pictures tell the whole story of weedy corners and countless hours of hard work, I also know that what we see can sometimes make us feel like we're not enough. Me, you, everyone now and then. So I thought you might enjoy seeing a little failure and chaos and imperfection from my world along with a few sweet lessons picked up along the way.
How does that sound?
Great. Then here goes.
My garden is big. The biggest I've ever had. And in truth I was completely overwhelmed this spring by how much earth was turned and waiting for seeds, and by how many thousands (yes, thousands) of weeds were quickly choking the seeds I put in regardless of how many I pulled or how heavily I mulched.
Everything went in late on account of the weeds, and I never felt like I caught up.
And now it's July. And the harvest has begun. And I still haven't caught up.
But I'm over it.
I no longer care.
I care about my garden, yes. But not about doing it "just so".
As you can see, it's crazy over here. And at some point – after freaking out this spring – I just decided to go with the flow.
Because even a weed bed can grow a wicked row of green beans.
So yes, weeds outnumber veggies here 100-to-1, and there are whole rows I've given up on. Rows I look at, laugh out loud, and then dive in to see if there might be a straggling kohlrabi in there we could have with lunch.
I literally crawl under the weeds to harvest things sometimes.
It's ridiculous and embarrassing and hilarious all at once. But you know what? I'm done fretting about it.
I'm over trying for picture-perfect. Because nothing in my life stays picture-perfect for long. And if it does there are probably tears involved by one or more people and possibly myself along the way.
And I'm positive that that cost out-weights the reward.
It ain't worth it.
So my garden in July is just not on the list of things I need to make pretty anymore.
What a relief that is to realize.
And so my weedy strawberry patch became the perfect place to watch a mama swamp sparrow raise her babies in the tall grass this June. Had I weeded we would have missed the chance.
And my overgrown lettuce bed is home to a giant mullein plant that I'm harvesting flowers and leaves from for both an earache oil and a lung clearing tea for winter. I'll be so glad to have it when cold season hits.
Lambs-quarters, chickweed, mullein, nettle, catnip, pigweed, plantain, parsnip, elderberry, and more. All volunteers taking root in my garden.
If you can't beat em, eat em.
I'm learning to embrace it for what it is and not freak out too much about the state of things.
And I'm thankful for the happy surprises that are growing from this acre of neglect.
This garden is a life-lesson for me if there ever was.
Lessons like: don't compare.
Perfection is a myth.
And use what life gives you.
Is it pretty? By conventional standards, no.
But will it feed us? Oh, my, yes.
Will it ever.
And that – I think – is downright perfect.