Gardening is like life. There are sunny bright days and gloomy, rain soaked, sullen days. But just as the ups and downs in life are learning experiences, so is the cycle of life in the garden. It is hard to believe I am in my fifth year cultivating my green thumb. As the summer growing season has ended it would be easy to say it was a “bad” year with all the rain. But the more I think about it, I choose to view it as a ‘‘glass half full’ summer.
I am quick to say it was a bad summer based on the number of tomatoes I picked or shall I say, didn’t pick. To say it was slim pickin’s would be an understatement. A handful of ripe tomatoes made it from the vine to my kitchen. Four plants yielded a handful. Normally I have so many I am in search of new recipes to add to my repertoire of tomato pie and caprese salad. Not this year. As I looked around the garden late in the summer I realized I was focusing on the negative instead of what was actually thriving.
The summer soak of 2015 was actually a delight to my herbs. My basil, chives and parsley flourished and filled the large silver pail they are in making for a beautiful display. Last summer was the first time I planted herbs in my flea market find and it was less than stellar, making me wonder if was not an optimum planter. What I have now realized is my herbs need a lot more water than I have given them in the past – a LOT more. They are so lush and I picked off of them frequently; they kept producing. Guess what else apparently loves a lot of water? Cucumbers. Who knew? I had so many cucumbers this year they were the food source for which I was scouring my cookbooks looking for innovative recipe ideas. Those suckers were so prolific that if I waited a few days to check the vines I would find a colossal cuke that was well past its prime. It may have been impressive in size, but the flavor is lost when they are that big and turning yellow. Yuck. Lastly, there’s the mint. Ahh, the mint; the perennial that thrives in heat, drought, and still pops up full of life after a sub-zero winter and continues to flourish when soaked to the root. If you want to feel like a successful gardener, plant some mint.
Like life, this has been a lesson to focus on what worked and not spend so much time stressing about what didn’t work. Sure, I would have enjoyed more tomatoes, but I snacked on cucumbers instead. Five years into my hobby, I learned my uniform watering habits are not a one size fits all system. Next year I will water accordingly.
I may have hit middle age, but I still consider myself a work in progress, a life-long learner. And so it is in my garden, a place I may always consider myself a beginner.