more lessons from the garden

Back in October, I wrote about some tomato plants I had, and how good they were for making analogies for life lessons. In the intervening time, I’ve eaten plenty of cherry tomatoes, and given many away, but must now sadly report that the tomato plants are almost all wiped out. Well, I was sad and distressed at first, but I think I’ve come to terms with it now.

I think it started to go downhill when I went away for a week to attend a cousin’s wedding interstate. There was a fair bit of rain forecast for that week, so I wasn’t too worried. Besides, I knew my uncle would pop by now and then to check up on everything. When I returned, however, I could tell the plants were struggling: they weren’t as green and leafy as when I left, and there weren’t many viable tomatoes on the vines.

With a bit of care — watering, feeding, pruning, repotting — some of them recovered a bit, or at least held on, but it seems like it wasn’t long before I was left with just two. A few seedlings had sprouted in random places where tomatoes had fallen, and these gave me some hope for a while, but they never really shot up, and I began to doubt they’d ever get big enough to bear fruit.

Realistically, I have only one tomato plant now, and I doubt that it’s going to last much longer. At first, I was quite upset by all this fading and withering and dying, but I talked to a few other friends who had been growing tomatoes (including the friends who had given these plants to me), and they all said their plants had met the same fate. As it turns out, they are not a perennial plant, tending instead to just produce one bumper crop, and then die off.

This new knowledge provided me some comfort, and helped reassure me that this wasn’t happening because of some combination of my neglect and incompetence.

But I still felt disheartened. After putting so much time and effort into these plants, they were all but gone. Some fervour left me, and I started watering the remaining plants every second day or so (instead of every day), and I was perhaps not as diligent with pruning.

At some point in all of this, I had also replanted two leeks — one I had already harvested from my garden before, and another that I had bought from the supermarket. (I discovered some time ago that you can regrow a leek from its roots after it has been harvested. I tried it one day because I knew it worked for spring onions.) These two leeks also seemed to be struggling and, at first, I was a bit perplexed. I wondered if the soil quality was not good enough, or if I wasn’t giving them enough water and plant food.

We were getting toward the end of spring and the start of summer by this point, so I also wondered if they were getting too much sun, or it was too hot for them. After all, the ones I replanted in cooler months did fine in the exact same position in front of the house. But, after several more weeks of struggle, they did not recover, so I decided to pull the proverbial cord, and took each leek out of its pot, and discarded them.

In early December, on a whim (and remembering the advice of fellow blogger Ally Bean who had commented on my previous post about tomatoes), I decided I was going to plant the seeds from a capsicum I’d just cut up. I did a quick Google search of how it should be done, but had very little faith in any of this working out, so I just haphazardly put a handful of seeds in a small pot of soil. I wasn’t investing much hope in this because I’d read somewhere that seeds from store-bought capsicums don’t tend to bear fruit, and I was also worried that it was already too warm to be planting them.

But after about two weeks, little sprouts started popping up. Not long after that, I decided I had to move them all to a bigger pot before they overcrowded and killed each other. Now I have more sprouts than I can be bothered to count, and I honestly don’t care if I never harvest a single capsicum. I’m just glad to have more greenery in my garden again.

So, I suppose, after all this, I’ve learnt a few more things:

  • It’s ok if energy and enthusiasm evade you, but don’t wallow in misery for too long. Being unsuccessful once does not mean you cannot be successful again.
  • Conversely, just because something (a technique, formula, procedure, etc) has worked several times in the past, it does not mean that it will always work, or that you should doggedly insist on doing things the same way all the time.
  • Being able to admit when something is not working or not right can be difficult but is an important step in moving forward.
  • Nothing lasts forever; you have to learn to let things go.
  • It’s good to keep trying new things. You might be pleasantly surprised.

5 thoughts on “more lessons from the garden

  1. We’ve had to give up on gardening since our dog passed away. We live out in the country, and between the bugs, turtles, birds, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and deer, we get nothing. Less aggravating to shop at the Farmers Market, but far less satisfying than harvesting from one’s own garden. Good luck to you! Enjoy!

    • Wow, you’ve really got your fair share of challenges there! My main nemesis so far seems to be caterpillars and maybe possums.

      Thank-you for the well wishes. I’ll post an update if the capsicums do well (or even if they don’t)

    • Yes, very hard to accept/apply sometimes. I’m sort of hoping that writing these things down will help me remember that I can do them (let go, keep going, etc, as the situation requires).

      I was really hoping to have a never-ending supply of leeks, so it would’ve been great if the process kept working. But, you know, external factors have determined otherwise. Still, perhaps the process doesn’t have to be scrapped completely – just tweaked and improved

      • Writing things down helps me immensely. If I had written your set of lessons I’d probably tape them up where I could read them for awhile. ( I often pine for a never-ending supply of all sorts of things.😊

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