Early this spring it was suggested to me that, given the fact I’d be heavily pregnant and then with a newborn this summer, I should cut down on my garden ambitions for the year. This was good advice; I even recognized it as good advice at the time. And of course, it made very little impact. At the time I could still bend at the waist, and it’s amazing how that creates a sense of optimism.
An objective judge would probably admit that my garden is not exactly in tip-top shape this year, that a great deal of weeding and watering and even planting is not being pursued as avidly as it has been in years past. (“I hope it rains soon,” I’ve thought often, with a vague glance at seedlings that I decided were probably fine.) I have been eating greens from the garden, but they were all overwintered spinach and romaine, which is now dwindling and/or trying to go to seed. There are very few new seedlings, partly from lack of planting and partly because rain apparently failed to fall at the right time. It seems that gardens don’t just spontaneously feed one without some effort.
As though to drive that point home, this year has been my first experience with garlic rust. I reacted to it in roughly the same way as I did when I discovered that mint, of all things, fails to thrive in my herb garden: outraged disbelief. Really?! This crop, which I’ve long been touting as the Easiest Crop Ever, it too can suffer from disease and death?! And now I shouldn’t plant garlic in those beds for three years?! It didn’t help that I didn’t discover the problem until it was well advanced, since I haven’t been spending much time in the garden. Theoretically gardening is supposed to teach one a certain amount of patience, acceptance of the vagaries of fate, and tender stewardship of the land. I have a ways to go yet.
For all that, there are of course many wonderful things happening in the garden, and I know that as soon as I dish out snap peas for the first time at the dinner table, I’ll forgive the garlic for getting rusty and the spinach for going to seed. Or possibly I’ll be forgiving myself for unreasonable ambitions. Whatever — there will be forgiveness involved, and it will be tasty. Just the other day I pointed out to Ryan the first tiny green furls of corn seedlings, and the eternal flame of Gardening Hope flared brightly within me, and I began to consider whether I shouldn’t plant some more beans…