Sunday, September 13, 2009
Nature's Bounty--And HOW!
Today, I pulled my first carrot from the garden.
This photo is provided for your visual pleasure.
For several years now, I’ve tried my hand at gardening. Each summer, I get a little more adventurous—adding another vegetable, trying another way of planting, of controlling weeds, of harvesting and storing. I am attempting to do my farming organically, for I care what goes into the earth’s soil. I want to be a good steward of this planet. I want to have a care for the life-giving plants around me, and I want to leave a world that my descendants can utilize and enjoy.
But while I love to garden…I’m not very good at it. I do not have a green thumb. I don’t even have a green finger or thumbnail. I look at a plant with love, and it trembles. I bend over to weed around it, and its leaves curl away in trepidation. When I approach with the garden hose, it’s as if I gave the vegetables an acid bath. I tend to over-water those plants which need dry conditions, and completely miss those which require a daily half-inch of precipitation. If a plant doesn’t shrivel up and die, it rots in place.
It’s a gift.
Because I am aware of my propensity for destroying all things green and good with my tender ministrations, I’m inclined to over-plant. I buy twice as much seed as I need to, and my bedroom is filled floor-to-ceiling with seedling pots in the early spring. I am always amazed by the large percentage of seeds that actually sprout, and my room is a veritable wonderland of verdant flora while the winter snows recede outside.
And then they meet me.
I sing to them and talk to them, just like the experts say. What the experts haven’t told me is what songs to sing or what words to say…because my baby plants begin their teenage rebellions before they’re even old enough to go outside and play. Before I can introduce them to the joys of unfiltered UV rays, many are wilting, bowing, turning brown and expiring.
It’s very ill-mannered of them, if you ask me.
However, despite the odds (and I stack them in my favor, as you can see) I generally manage to nurse a few seedlings through the trauma of planting and transplanting, and I wind up with a half-decent harvest. I can vegetables, I freeze vegetables, I dry them. I cold-store. I dry and save seeds for next year’s garden from some of the heirloom plants that I’d like to keep and which are no longer available at seed companies. It is hard and exhausting work, but it is satisfying. I know I am helping to provide for my family. I know that potentially harmful chemicals will not enter their bodies from MY vegetables. And I take comfort from gazing at my pantry shelves, filled end to end with colorful jars of vegetables, relishes, sauces and jams.
‘Look,’ I say. ‘Look what the earth and I can accomplish together!’
It’s a good feeling.
But it doesn’t compare to the feeling I got when I pulled my very first carrot from that raised bed this afternoon. I grasped the leaves at their base, wiggled the root a little to loosen the soil, and gave a gentle pull. I held the carrot aloft. I shook the dirt off and peered intently. One eyebrow lifted. And then, the other. The corner of my mouth twitched, and then the whole darned thing lost the battle for control and I guffawed. I sat on the edge of the garden and howled. My very first carrot of the 2009 growing season has brought me incredible joy. Immense hilarity. Spectacular amusement.
I need to get a life, don’t I?
In spite of the frustrations of a cold summer with over-abundant rain and a lack of free time on my part, my garden has not let me down. Once again, Mother Nature has rewarded me for my hard work and effort. She gave me a bountiful harvest, and she gave me a smile. Several smiles. A pulled muscle in my tummy, and a few new laugh wrinkles, too.
And the carrot? I ate it, of course. It is, after all, the first carrot of the season. How could I resist?
Carrot photo Copyright by Karen Bessey Pease 09-13-2009