In the Garden

Over the weekend, I worked in my garden. Weeding is something that continually gets pushed to the bottom of my to do list. I don’t know why. Okay, I do know why. Bugs, dirt, hot sun beating down? Not much to love. This time I selected the right day because the bugs were few, the day was cool (and cloudy, so no sunburn), and though I did get dirt under my fingernails, I’ve managed to dig most of it out. My garden is tidy, and I feel much better.

Being in the garden on Sunday turned out to be the perfect way to spend the afternoon. I started with a simple plan to fertilize the tomatoes which have finally started ripening. They look, smell, and taste amazing, but when I brought the first can of plant food treated water, I noticed some vines were so weighted down with fruit, they were laying on the ground. I completed three trips of fertilized water before hunting for the stakes I’d stashed from last season. They are bamboo, barely covered in faded green paint after several seasons. I don’t use circular metal cages, though I probably should because my tomatoes always grow into an unruly, tangled mess, but I really enjoying staking and tying the vines, so I continue with the process every year.

Kneeling in the dirt to tie the vines, I fought with tall weeds. After yanking them, I righted the tomato vines, only to discover crabgrass and other smaller weeds underneath. I yanked those, too, and continued until the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs had been trimmed, tidied and staked, and piles of weeds were discarded outside the fence. The garden looked healthy. Satisfied, I picked the strawberry plant clean of ripe fruit and shoveled the berries in my mouth without washing the dirt off. It felt like just the right reward.

I like to create things, but drawing, designing, planning, and even writing, leaves me feeling unsatisfied. My final product never seems to measure up. The best thing about my garden is the “not good enough” feeling never surfaces. My strawberries may be odd shapes and my tomatoes may not win blue ribbons at the fair, but they always taste good, and I’m proud to share them with others, gleefully acknowledging, “yes, this came from my garden!” I don’t know if the things I grow are flavored by pride or TLC. I don’t think it really matters, do you?

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