our summer garden & letting go of expectations.

I keep thinking at the start of every spring that this is the year I’m going to plant a big garden. I picture four or five large beds, designated for berries, herbs, early spring & late summer crops, and oh, maybe a pumpkin or something thrown too.  Big raised beds, mulch in the spaces between, big bee & butterfly-attracting flowers surrounding them. The literal fruits of this vision are abundant, prolific, and gosh darn it, the best tasting summer crops I’ve ever had. But, without fail, every spring, the time gets away and it gets later and later into the season. I throw some starters hastily purchased from the nursery in the ground, forget to water, and look at my dried-up plants at the end of summer in complete despair. I feel like I failed myself, my garden, my entire family because how dare I not feed them homegrown food from the backyard?!  

Obviously, I am not failing anyone, not myself or my garden, and certainly not my family.  But why do I feel this way? And why the heck do I let my expectations get so big, essentially ruining my experience or, better put, my view of the experience?

We have a decent little box this year, really. I grew carrots, spinach, cucumber, and lettuce from seed, which I have never done in my years of gardening. The spinach went to seed quickly, really, it’s too hot for it, but the lettuce is really doing spectacularly! The carrots look like toothpicks, but I am just going to have to chalk this up as it being my first time trying seeds. The cucumbers have tons of little babies on them, I am looking forward to the day we are finally ready to start turning those to jars of pickles! I since have added two tomato plants, thyme, and oregano to the box. It’s not a bad little garden, and while it may not meet the high expectations I had, it’s enough for a busy working mom of three to care for. 

The last few days I have been picking bits of lettuce for my lunch time salads, and really, what more could I ask for from the experience of gardening? The fruits, literally, of my attention and efforts winding up on my plate. In seeking out a simpler, quieter life despite my busy days as a working mom, I do know that it is the small acts, such as picking lettuce from the garden, that are truly fulfilling. It’s not the caliber of my day job, the size of my home or even the size of my garden. It’s the hot coffee & jazz on my morning commute, the feeling of climbing into bed after a long day, and those small seeds I planted that really mean something. It’s the experience of living, however small. And there is simply no way to anticipate that.