Why I Garden

While harvesting cucumbers last night, I watched the storm clouds roll in…again. This storm was milder than the doozy we had the night before, but it still brought another half inch of rain – on top of the four inches we’ve had in the past seven days! Part of that rain total was due to Tropical Storm Andrea, but the rest is from the evening thunderstorms that are summer fare here in the Lowcountry. And summer has arrived. The temperature hit 90 degrees yesterday, and it’s going to be in the mid-90s the rest of the week. It’s time to get out my respiratory knife and fork because the humid air is soon going to be thick enough to chew!

With harvest basket in hand and sweat dripping down the back of my neck, I watched those storm clouds roll in and it made me tired. Tired, thinking of all that I will have to do in the garden…again!

More rain means more trouble for my tomatoes. After the tropical storm, I had to prune ALL my tomato plants (not just a few) because ALL of them now have Septoria Leaf Spot. I clipped off more branches, ones full of yellow leaves, and trimmed branches to open up air circulation while waiting for my fungicide to arrive (which it did last night – so I’ll be spraying this afternoon). Rain and humidity make the spread of fungus worse, so my battle continues.

The rain is also bringing more slugs – and washing away the Sluggo I applied. Back to the drawing board on that.

I noticed the other day that some leaf-footed bug must’ve laid eggs somewhere in my garden because I found a half dozen or so nymphs on my white cucumbers. I attacked them with neem oil, hoping they died a slow death. But I’m ready to shoot them with neem again if I see them any more.

The squash and zucchini fruit I had growing turned yellow or shriveled this week. Too much water too quickly, I think. So, I picked them and threw them in the compost pile.

Besides fighting the effects of the rain and the fungus and the bugs, there’s the harvesting and the prepping and the storing. Today, I now have enough cucumbers to make a couple jars of quick pickles. I made pickled snap beans the other night – and have another gallon of beans to put up. And there must be a dozen or more green bell peppers ready to harvest, so I’ll have to freeze those.

This, on top of working full time during fiscal year end with auditors in the office. After ten hours in the office, I work in the garden and/or kitchen until nine or ten at night, after which I write for an hour or two. Then it’s back up at 4:00 a.m. to do it again.

My son asked me the other day, “Mom, why do you do all this? It’s too much work! You can just go to the grocery store and get whatever you want. Then you wouldn’t be so tired all the time.” Last night, watching those storm clouds come in and realizing the rain was about to wash away all the spraying and spread more fungus and possibly ruin more squash, I almost agreed with him. I was almost tempted to give in.

But then I thought about WHY it is I have a garden. Yes, I could get my produce at the store, but it wouldn’t taste as good. It wouldn’t feel as good either because there’s an inner satisfaction – and pride – when you put your own produce on the table for family and guests. I entertained last Saturday evening, and everything on the table – other than the meat – was from my garden. The smiles around the table made the work all worth it.

Yes, gardening is hard work – especially after slaving in an office all day. But it’s being in the garden, among the green and the flowers and the sound of bees, that removes the stress from the office. Yes, I’m tired. But it’s a good tired – a full body, fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow kind of tired. A deep sleep tired, where I can dream of the taste of what will ripen in my garden next, reminding me just why it is I garden.


Why do you garden?

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