Putting Up the (1)

My Garden Sucks. And That’s Ok.

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.









Weedy Chaos
A jungle of overgrowth

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.

My sad bean plants, so weighed down even their support string is sagging

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.

Who cares?

At least then I’d have a better garden next year.

Even the chickens are getting choked out.


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19 thoughts on “My Garden Sucks. And That’s Ok.

  1. I am so glad you posted this! The perfectly manicured gardens of instagram are hardly ever a reality. I think Arkansas also qualifies as “an unlabeled temperate rainforest”… in order to stay sane we’re looking into major mulching in the near future 🙂

  2. You and me both! Life happens, can’t do everything at once. Good for you for doing what you could, what you love, and what you had to do for your business!

    Besides, shelly and dried beans are DELICIOUS. I’m sure this is how they were discovered in the first place.

  3. I think in order to win the war against the weeds you need to have raised beds. Most weeds don’t grow on fertile rich soil. On my pathways I laid down cardboard and the weed growth is very minimum. I have composite kits from Greenland Gardener that I ordered from Home Depot and from the company directly. They were the cheapest solution to my problem. Even if you are planting in ground, try the layers of newspaper or cardboard, put shredded leaves on top and make openings only to plant or direct sow.

  4. When the garden quit’s producing you can turn the chickens loose in the garden spot and they will pick it clean.You might have to put the dogs somewhere first.The chickens will automatically go back to their coop at dusk or nightfall.If the chickens are laying eggs,don’t be alarmed at the color of the yolk.Keep writing and posting your blogs, I love reading them.

  5. Well, Lydia, at least you got your garden planted. That’s more than I was able to do.

    My catch phrase is, “Life Got In My Way… Again!” I have loads of plans and dreams in the winter months. I go through the seed catalogs, order seeds, started them indoors… and this year, I made 175 pots from newspaper. What a job that was!!!

    Then, reality sets it. At the moment, I have a full-time job that “Gets In My Way!” When the warmer months arrived, there was always something else that needed doing. Hence, my garden never got prepared or planted.

    Well, 2017 in another season. I’m hoping for the best!!!

  6. Your garden looks good actually. Needs weeding. Rain happened to me too. When it quits raining get in there and start weeding, you’ll be amazing how the beans and beets recover. As you pull the weeds, shake off the dirt and throw them between the plants for mulch.

  7. The tours that you have coming through could be out there weeding for you, as you teach them about growing a sustainable garden, and you could write all about it 🙂

  8. Thank you for your honest photos! My garden did the same thing. Of course a 64 year old lady can only do so much. We did get some good things out of the garden and I learned a lot. I had big ideas, but that’s what keeps us going! I am going to spread leaves over my weeds and cover with water and cardboard to prepare the ground for my fall garden, and do it again!

  9. This makes me feel better about my garden as mine looks very similar. It is nice to know I am not the only one struggling with time. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  10. Looks like my garden, which I love! May I make a suggestion? Learn about those “weeds”! There’s a whole lot of nutrition in wild things. Oh, so good for you!

  11. Congratulations on the writing! I tried it for a little while, but the pressure killed the passion. Indeed, by your definition, I cannot think of a single thing I am truly passionate about; there are many things I enjoy very much, but all of them I like taking a break from, too.

    And that includes my garden, which, after being with my family, is where I am the happiest. And yet, I would be embarrassed to post pictures of it next to yours. You at least have stuff growing. What little I managed to plant, half didn’t even survive — mostly due to inadequate fencing.

  12. Yes, we take the time for the things we love the most. One way to tell if a relationship is in trouble! I love gardening, but it takes consistent constant care. Overnight the bugs can eat your bean plants or it seems some weeds grow a foot a day. Even though I love gardening mine got way out of hand this year. Hunting vegetables in weeds is no fun, and folks stare at it without comment. There is always next year.

  13. Get a book on edible weeds & have your revenge. 🙂 I’m in Arizona & we didn’t get much rain so far this yr, so nothing grows unless I water it, so I have a little “weed envy.” Get a couple of goats & they take care of any excess vegetation you don’t want.

  14. This is awesome. You are mirroring my life. July came with so much rain that the weeds and grass won.

    No longer will I beat myself up for my unkempt garden. Thand you for sharing.

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