I stood silent with my head hung low as my friend rattled off her accomplishments.
“Four rows of corn. Three rows of beans. Cucumbers. Spaghetti squash. Tomatoes. Peppers. Poppa’s watermelons,” she said.
Remembering the beauty of her delightful vegetable garden last year, I admit I was jealous – yes, jealous – that she had her garden completely planted. She not only had a planted garden, her corn and beans were up, and she had already had to “hill up” her potatoes. By comparison, I (the lady who writes about gardening) hadn’t a single plant in the ground.
I felt like a fraud, especially when everyone around here knows that Mother’s Day is “the” planting deadline for vegetables. One simply must have everything in the ground by Mother’s Day, or is it Memorial Day?
Let’s hope it’s Memorial Day.
This year, my garden plans began as they always do, with hope and much energetic planning. However, this spring we had a prolonged Dogwood Winter, a season when temperatures dip low, when it rains sideways and is 36 degrees at night and then 86 during the day. The rains fell heavy in March and April, so much that a river ran through the goat pasture, and for the first time ever the ground was so saturated that water bubbled up from my garden.
I simply could not get in the field.
After attending the Herb Festival in Asheville, I returned with a renewed energy, a truckload of medicinal plants and a fierce determination to knock back the weeds and – at least – get the herbs settled in their rightful places. All was finally going according to plan until a cobra-boa-constrictor-python-copper-racer politely drew a line in the field and clearly established its territory.
Y’all know how I am with snakes. Friends, this one was 4-feet-long.
I quickly developed a new plan and tied the goats to the tree near the “cobra-boa zone.” The goats have one job: keep the snakes away. A job they are currently failing. I have one job: plant the garden (also failing). And so this week I finally chunked a few Cherokee purple tomato plants in the ground, and scratched out a row for my beans. Weary of white half runners, this year was the year I was going to plant greasy backs. I’ve had the seeds in my freezer for two years, but alas, when planting time arrived I could not find my seeds.
A lost bean seed is a sorrowful thing.
Removing everything from the freezer, my despair grew. All hope of having a lovely vegetable garden had passed. Then I remembered the beans Dan Pittillo gave me, those scarlet runner beans whose beautiful blooms surpass anything else in the garden. Something akin to hope took root as I dropped the seeds in the warm dirt.
If your garden isn’t coming together as you planned, remember that perfection isn’t your job. You need only plant one tiny seed at a time and let Mother Nature do the rest.
Renea Winchester is the author of “Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches.” Reach her at email@example.com.