Planting a garden each spring always seems like a great idea.
The idea of planting a tiny seed into the dirt and letting nature take its course is always appealing to me.
I plant the garden for healthy, delicious produce that I can control — to a certain degree — how it’s grown. It’s also super rewarding to me to pick what I've grown.
But nature — while a beautiful process — comes with her own problems. Mother Nature — as I’m sure farmers across the area would agree — has had me at wits’ end this year.
It started with the late planting season. It drove my literally insane that it was so wet that I couldn’t get my plants in the ground until June.
Once in the ground, though, the plants were not only dependent on Mother Nature, they were vulnerable to her as well.
I felt lucky all through June and the first part of July to have dodged a couple of severe storms with threats of hail. I truly didn’t know how I’d handle the pain of watching my tomatoes, peppers, corn and other produce get about half-sized before being mauled by a brief bash of hail.
As it turns out, though, it hasn’t been the hail (knock on wood) that has proved the most destructive to my little garden.
It was the July 20 torrential rainfall and straight-line winds that ripped through town at gusts of up to 70 miles per hour that really took a toll on my garden.
I remember becoming extremely anxious as I watched the sky quickly darken at 9 a.m. that morning. I watched helplessly from my kitchen sink window, my eyes glued to a tomato in my home garden, as the wind blew it every which direction.
My boyfriend was right when he said I was just torturing myself by standing there, but it was like witnessing a tragic scene that I just couldn’t turn away from.
Eventually I peeled myself away from the window, but then I became anxious at the thought of observing what I believed to be the inevitable destruction out at my second garden in town.
To my surprise, my tomatoes and peppers had survived the blast with only minor damage. What wasn’t so lucky were my four rows of then chest-high sweet corn, which had nearly been laid flat.
I was devastated. I remember calling my farmer dad about what had happened and asked him to give it to me straight: Was my corn a goner?
Unwilling to accept his prognosis, I sought more advice on Facebook. The answers varied: Yes — it can bounce back to it could still produce something, but the yield won’t be as high.
Color me surprised a few short days later as I watched it slowly fight to straighten itself out. Within six days, it had completely straightened into straight rows and began to tassel. The verdict on the yield is still out.
I actually can’t help but laugh at myself for how similar my reactions to this year’s garden mimic that of my father’s — a Nebraska farmer.
Throughout my childhood I’d silently scoff at his reactions produced by things beyond his control — namely, the weather. It may have taken me more than two decades, but Dad, I get it. I finally have an emotional attachment to a growing livelihood that I’ve poured my blood, sweat and tears into.
I wouldn’t be forthcoming if I didn’t admit that each season I wonder why I even bother with it all: the hard work that goes into planning, planting, weeding, watering and fertilizing, just to have the lingering possibility of Mother Nature destroy it all.
But I think all that work and threat that it could all be taken away upon one major storm keeps me respectful of the land and the process. Sure, I could go buy a head of lettuce in the store for less than a $1, but it isn’t about the cost or convenience.
It doesn’t bother me much (as it should) to throw out produce I purchase in the store. But when it’s my own, I respect the journey from seed to table too much to bear it going to waste.
It’s a process that despite all the trials she’s given me, I still think Mother Nature is beautiful and I’m grateful for the gifts she brings.