Why I Garden…

Have you looked at the forecast recently?  In my line of work (and leisure), I check the weather report at least once daily, sometimes several times a day to track storms or time activities around predicted rain.  Though it seems downright unfair that we’re already in the 90’s, and there is little chance of rain for the next seven days, I am trying to stop expressing my disbelief about the weather trends we’ve been experiencing over the past several months (well, years actually):  a severe drought last summer, an unusually cold, snow covered winter, a record setting rainy spring and, now, it looks like summer has started about a month early and we may be short on rain yet again.  These conditions do not make it easy for a gardener – it’s been too wet to plant, too wet to pull out the weeds (that have clearly benefited from the excess rainfall), too wet to even walk into some parts of the garden!  Am I a glutton for punishment?  Have I not learned?  Why do I continue to garden?

It's not all bad: hot and dry weather = more hot peppers!
A "volunteer" sunflower in the vegetable garden

Every once in a while I have a fond memory of one of the many houseplants I have attempted to grow; I think of the three years in a row I have tried to start the same kind of seed with no success; I recognize the decidedly shady corner that I thought got at least six hours of sun, and subsequently “rejected” the sun-loving plants I put there, or the squash plants that were found by the vine borer and cut short by two months.  There are plenty more examples, as I am sure you all know, because you also have your own!

But, for all my failures, I have twice as many successes – and that’s what keeps me gardening.  Like today, I harvested 2 pounds of deep, shiny red organic strawberries from one 30’ row that was just planted last year; a visit to one of my regular spring greenhouse stops resulted in finding three Mexican sunflower plants to add to the garden this year (the seeds I have never had success starting on my own); the cuttings of Christmas cactus given to me last fall have new growth and are ready to be repotted into larger pots; the gooseberry I put in last year has already tripled in size and is a healthy, shiny green – and there are so many more examples (as I’m sure you all know…)!

A ladybug larva shows up just in time!
Thought nothing would grow in that dry, compacted clay? Prairie plants love it!

Aside from the fact that gardening, for me, is an addiction, I read a quote somewhere that may help explain my persistence:

“Gardeners have a belief in tomorrow.”

Tomorrow the rain may stop.  Tomorrow those seeds may sprout.  Tomorrow ladybugs may show up and eat all of those aphids.  In the fall we’ll add some composted manure and make that bed higher so next year we may have more luck with our carrots.  This winter I am going to keep all the tropicals I brought in alive until the spring (even the rosemary)!  Next year I’ll be able to find that new dwarf cultivar before it sells out, and grow it in my small garden.

As long as there is a tomorrow, I’ll be gardening, and I promise to stop talking about the weather.

-Cara Hague, Horticulturist

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