I’m sipping coffee and thinking over my actual garden, while also entertaining the notion of the garden-as-metaphor. It’s a lovely summer morning. My Traveling Partner and his son are in the shop together, doing shop things. I’m in studio thinking about bulbs, roses, and garden paths. Nice start to the day.

This week I’ve been out in the garden more, now that the worst of the heat as abated (at least for now). First year in the lovely raised bed out front that my partner and I built (celebrating our anniversary, back in May). I love it… but my results were less than ideal.

  1. My melons all failed, mostly due to the neighbor’s cat using that side of my raised bed as a great new litter box. I think I’ve now successfully discouraged that bullshit. (Also, I’ve never had luck with melons ever, in the Pacific Northwest, but that could be due to being a fairly half-assed, kind of terrible gardener…?)
  2. My beans gave up a great little harvest. By great, I mean quite plentiful and tasty. By little, I mean just the one harvest.
  3. When it gets seriously hot, I am inclined to be absent from the garden when it needs my daily attention most. I gotta work on this!
  4. The container, grow bag, and hydroponic gardening are relatively high maintenance here in the this location, and a bit distant from anything like “convenient”. They are a poor fit to the gardener that I clearly am.
  5. I love fresh produce. I really like things that are “easy”. These ideas do not complement each other.
  6. My carrots, radishes, and daikon were awesome – until they bolted in the heat while I was sick, in July. I managed some further success by harvesting the resulting seeds. 😀
  7. My eggplants are doing super well, but they don’t have much fruit on them (see “heat” in item #3). The couple of fruits maturing on them now look like they will be excellent.
  8. I have a lot to learn.

I think that last item is my key takeaway; I have a lot to learn. Working in the raised bed is easier, for sure. Having the gardening all right out front is very convenient. No real excuse not to get the work done; I walk by the garden multiple times each day, and I think I need to rebuild old habits of deliberately visiting the garden each day, in the morning and in the evening, just walking, looking, and taking it all in. Being “present” in the garden requires me to be literally present in the garden. lol No surprise there.

In the heat of summer, I let the lawn die back rather than use the quantity of water to maintain it that it would require. It comes right back with the rain in autumn.

I spent the week tidying up the garden beds, and adding fresh compost before doing some fall planting. I find myself thinking over low-maintenance garden paths (reduces the amount of wasted space given over to lawn grass, too). I think about where the next raised bed could go, and what it might look like. I consider the question of whether to cover the raised bed to keep things going through colder months, and how best to do that without looking messy. I’m inclined to provide cover for winter… extend the growing season, and get a better start to the Spring growing season here in our chilly-Springs climate. There’s time to figure that out to ensure I also maintain a pleasant curb-appeal aesthetic (that matters to me).

I pause my writing to enjoy a break with my partner and step-son, then head out into the sunny garden to water and look over “next steps” – time to prune the roses, and there is some weeding to do. Probably a good time to sow more Russel’s Lupines in the bed under the kitchen window (I’ve apparently settled on lupines and nasturtiums for that one…).

Gardens are very much a “I get out of it what I put into it” sort of thing. The effort I make on things like weeding, watering, giving seedlings the very best start, and pest control, directly effect the outcome at harvest time. That’s just real. Being there, present and engaged, observing and aware, makes so much difference. I make a point of walking the perimeter of the garden and flower beds as I water. I look at weeds and reflect on pulling those out – but no amount of reflection or observation will change the number (or vigor) of the weeds in those beds. There are verbs involved. I’ve got to do the actual work required to get the result I most want. True in life and in gardening.

It’s time to begin again.