Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Patience and Change

A gardener spends a lot of time waiting.  Waiting for snow to melt. Waiting for the ground to thaw.  Waiting for the last frost.  Waiting for seedlings to emerge.  Waiting for rain.  Waiting for sun.  Waiting for the harvest. Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  You will become a patient person if you tend the soil or you will not succeed.  Plants emerge, grow, set fruit, and die on their schedule, not yours.

I began growing vegetables years ago because I wanted more control over my finances and what my family was eating.  Let me say that again:  I wanted more control.  It is humbling to learn how little control you have over plants.  Early blight, late blight, Japanese beetles, drought, too much rain, floods, the neighbor's dog, those damn urban deer-all of these factors seem to have it in for the gardener's best plans.

So why do I even bother?  I lost an entire crop of tomatoes to blight a few years ago.  I wanted to give up growing tomatoes as that was the second year I'd dealt with that disappointment.  The following year I did not grow a single tomato plant and bought my tomatoes at the farmer's market.  I grew more green beans, and salads, and peppers.

But I missed the tomatoes.  I missed seeing the plants weighed down by fruit.  I missed walking 20 feet out my back door and 20 minutes later having bruschetta or salsa or a really kick-ass grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. 

So I tried something different the next year:  instead of buying my tomatoes as nursery starts, I started them from seed (there's that control thing again).  And something amazing happened:  I had the healthiest tomato plants in my entire gardening career.  And the best tasting fruits. And more kick-ass grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches.  And bruschetta on a whim.

As gardeners, we have to be patient.  We also have to be open to change.  Two qualities that many of us struggle to cultivate.  But if we aren't patient, if we aren't willing to try new things, we won't succeed.  In gardening or in life.

And so I wait...until next week to plant my tomato seeds.