Gardening is a lot of work. To be completely honest, it is work that I don’t generally enjoy. The list of things I don’t enjoy about gardening is impressively long. I don’t like: to sweat, have dirt under my nails, have poo on my hands or under my nails, be in the sun, bend over, dig holes, use a hoe, pull weeds, separate and replant, and water daily. I don’t like the fact that I take the time to plant something and then some rogue wild creature comes in and eats, pecks, or destroys everything I had to sweat, be in the sun for, bend over, use a hoe, dig a hole, get poo under my nails, weed, and water daily. I used to like chipmunks. Adorable little woodland creatures running about demonstrating just how cute nature can be. Now that I have planted a garden, the nefarious little buggers live to mock my existence. I imagine them sitting in their dark little holes, watching me work with their beady little eyes, and plotting how they will run into my garden en masse and destroy all the work I have put in to creating a chipmunk buffet. Apparently, I live to feed tree rats.
Crows, let us talk about crows for just a bit and then I will move on with my point. Crows are the scourge of the bird world. I planted sugar snap peas because my bean loves sugar snap peas. I planted twenty-five plants of sugar snap peas. As I gleefully watched them sprout, I imagined how the bean and I would pick our peas, she would eat something healthy, we would put them in the freezer and she could eat peas all year. For a week, I rode a roller coaster ride of gardening emotion. My peas that were sprouted the day before were gone, disappeared, simply vanished. This was a curse word worthy development indeed. One by one, all twenty-five plants simply disappeared. As I watched over the garden throughout the day to discover the offending thief of my sweet peas, I saw chipmunks running amuck, squirrels dancing about and then I saw the crows. Like airborne ninja thieves they would descend on the garden, make a beeline for the peas, and systematically go down the row and eat each tender new sprout. As I ran out with my broom in hand, the look out, oh yes, they are organized and methodical, the lookout would announce my approach and away they would go laughing and cawing as they went. I detest crows.
My garden was existing, not really thriving but I was trying to make a go of it. Then my friend, who is a master gardener, takes one look at my garden and informs me of what I am doing wrong. It turns out, I was doing a lot of things wrong. I was told, “You who are used to being the teacher, now must become the student. Your garden is dying, I will show you how to make your garden thrive.” My lesson began with the back breaking job of weeding. I hate to pull weeds. I expressed this sentiment and was answered with laughter and given a garden hoe. I don’t like the garden hoe either. The next step in making the garden thrive was feeding it with composted pig poo. I have an aversion to pig poo. Again, my aversion was met with laughter and I was handed a five-gallon bucket and a shovel. Note the list of things I don’t like to do included shoveling and pig poo. The hardest lesson, was when she pulled out all the plants I had bent over, in the sun, and sweated over to plant. They were relocated to more appropriate spots in the garden. This included more bending over, more digging, more sweating, and more time in the sun. If I questioned her ability, that doubt went right out the window when she took a tomato from the dinner table, just a store-bought organic tomato, carried it out to the garden, broke it open and planted it in the ground. It was my turn to laugh but I would not laugh for long. In a matter of days, that tomato sprouted a dozen or so little plants. Those plants have been thinned and replanted and are thriving. She is like the garden version of Miyagi in the Karate Kid. I now just go to the garden when she tells me to and ask what I need to do. I observe, make note, and watch my garden thrive. It is interesting to learn something new, hone a new skill, and watch a master at work.
As for the rodents and crows, my garden Miyagi informs me that we must take the good with the bad and share our harvest with nature. She tempers my inclination to go all Mr. McGregor on the wildlife and shoot the crows. Instead of yelling, “Arrrggghhh, rabbits!” I create a colorful list of curse words to describe what I will do to the chipmunks, squirrels, and crows…especially the crows.
As we proceed through these days, please continue to stay safe, stay smart, learn from the masters in your life, take the good with the bad and wash your hands…really well, with goats milk soap preferably.