I really didn’t want to show these pictures.
I’m cringing even now as I move my cursor to “publish”. In a matter of seconds, I’m going to kill whatever sense you had that I am a competent individual who can be trusted with important tasks.
But THAT illusion needs to be broken. I can’t pretend otherwise.
You’re going to judge me so much. I just know it.
EEEEKKKK Ok… here goes nothing.
Yup. That’s my garden. What a horrific mess.
“What happened?!” you ask?
Weeeeeeell let me tell you.
A whole lotta life, all at once. That’s what happened.
This summer at Big Laurel has been a blur of hosting outside groups and running summer camps, mixed with days of torrential rain closely followed by sweltering sunny days.
All sorts of people. All the time. All in my backyard.
And the weeds took full advantage of my absentminded neglect.
Sure, some things are surviving the onslaught of invading cellulose. We should get a bumper crop of tomatos soon, and the basil has a lovely color.
But forget about the beans. The beets. And anything I attempted to direct sow. It’s long been choked out, buried under the more genetically-suited weed seeds that were lurking just below the surface, biding their time until I’d give them an opening to thrive.
Really, my poor plants never had a chance.
It’s my belief that central Appalachia is a previously unlabeled temperate rainforest.
Looking back, it’s a little hard to pinpoint when the downward spiral of garden neglect began. Early on, I’d make the rounds each night with my trusty watering can, nourishing every sprout and transplant in sight. I worked my back weeding each patch at least twice a week.
And then the full force of an Appalachian summer hit us.
The time spent nurturing my plants was replaced with busyness from summer camps, work groups, and the small matter of starting a freelance business from scratch.
Back in February, I had big garden plans. I wanted to grow it all, eat primarily from the garden, and put gallons of food away for the winter.
I naïvely assumed I could take care of everything myself. My calculations were wrong. It turns out weeding forty hours a week (like I’ve done most previous summers as a landscaper) loses its appeal when you aren’t getting paid to do it.
My self motivation for gardening floundered against everything else I was working towards.
One year into our Appalachian homesteading journey, this garden is proof that we can’t do it all. And that’s ok.
The beauty is that there’s always next year. We’ll have a better plan, more skills, and, because we’ll no longer qualify for government food stamps, more incentive to store away our own food.
So for this year, I’m letting the garden go.
Is it what I dreamed it would be? Hardly. But the sacrifice of not having a robust garden has come with great benefits.
Ian and I have managed to be present with each group that has come our way, taking the time to enjoy them and learn their stories while in turn sharing a piece of ours.
Instead of weeding, I’ve been using my outdoor time to walk, taking the puppies deep into the woods and picking berries along the sides of the road, spinning articles in my head along the way.
And the WRITING. My freelancing is taking off more than I could have anticipated, and I spend hours each day trying to farther myself in this field. Never have I spent so much time in front of a computer. And never have I felt so right or so fulfilled about a decision that I’ve made.
I’ve always heard that a true test of whether you love something is if you seek it out when there is no time to commit to it. If that’s true for writing, I should get a gold star. Our days are packed and full of people, but every spare minute it’s all I can do to not rush to my computer to retreat back into myself and the creation of words on a screen.
Will the passion wear off when it’s my full time job this September? Maybe.
At least then I’d have a better garden next year.