Early this spring a strong wind took down my 30 year old fence that stood as a barrier between my back yard flower garden and a giant weed patch. That weed patch had been my vegetable garden for 35 years until last summer and I decided to give it up, at least for one year. I was over the whole vegetable gardening rigamarole. It's time consuming, uses a great deal of water here in the high desert and I'd lost my enthusiasm. I didn't miss the hard work but I did have some twinges of regret when it came to harvest time.
When I discovered the fence down and the ugly secret it had been keeping I was shocked. The weeds had grown waist high. The junk trees that had sprung up had trunks as large as my wrists. It was a bloody mess! I realized it would have been much simpler to have planted and cared for the garden than deal with the aftermath.
There's another fence at the very rear of my property so I didn't really need the fence that blew over and was not interested in spending the money for something that was not necessary. However, I had to do something about the weed patch from hell. I couldn't face sitting on my patio this summer admiring my lovely flowers and shrubbery against a back drop of dry, ugly weeds and trash trees.
It took me many hours of "back annoying" (not quite back breaking) work to pull all the weeds. Then as a Mother's Day gift my son and his wife came and rototilled the area. Great gift!
When it came time to plant I had a huge space to fill so I planted several varieties of squash (no zucchini) and cucumbers because they fill in large spaces with lush green leaves. My main motivation was to make the space pretty to look at from my patio.
Along with the aforementioned items I also planted beets, carrots, lettuces, spinach, snow peas, strawberries, rhubarb and nearly two dozen tomato plants. In the silence of caring for my garden this year I have recalled with humor and love the preceding 35 years of planting, tending and harvesting. For many years it was a shared effort with my parents and my son was good help, although not always enthusiastic. But that's about as good as you're going to get from a teenage son. All in all my garden memories are good ones.
This year I began this project with the same amount of enthusiasm my teenage son had several summers ago but it turned into a much different experience. Gardening is meditative, productive and quite satisfying, first when the seedlings break through the earth and again when the harvest begins. It feels particularly good to share the bounty with family and friends and to serve meals fresh from the earth.
It occurs to me now as I'm writing this that my garden turned into a metaphor for life.
Take care not to let your "garden" fill with weeds. Tend it lovingly with intention. Watch it blossom into something beautiful that nourishes yourself and others.
"Help us be more faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth and without light nothings flowers."