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Garden Journey 2016, Part 3

Overview of the garden before planting.

Something shifted inside of me recently.

After reestablishing trust with the young transplants, I felt myself relax. Or rather, I became willfully lax. Starting a new business has afforded me only a limited amount of time and energy to devote to the garden. Why then would I waste what I can give by needlessly fretting?

I must admit, I’ve also become more confident. I’m more tuned in to the nature of my garden and Michigan’s growing season. And I’ve become more honest with myself. When I built my garden several years ago, I tried to do everything by someone else’s book. Place the raised garden beds up against the fence to make the best use of space? Sure...but now I have to contort my body in strange ways just to pluck a tomato. Build the soil a certain way? Of course! But this year, I actually had it tested. The pH was too basic and the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium was relatively balanced; I mixed in a light alfalfa fertilizer and citric acid and called it good. Harden off the plants over a seven-day period and not transplant them into the garden until May 31st? Usually...but with hot, humid days, high nighttime temperatures, and plants more-than-ready to graduate to their outside beds, the plants got what we call “prison hard” and were in the ground after only four days.

Plus, there’s been less to do in the garden. Perennial herbs and berries and overwintering garlic, shallots, and onions have needed very little of my input—they’ve done their thing and given me an instant gratification of green. While I see that I do need to replace the wood in my garden beds—they’re only six inches high and starting to fall apart after three years (they were all I could afford at the time)—I can work on them in the fall. Or even get another year out of them. Whatever.

I don’t mean that “whatever” to be flippant. Not at all. In becoming laser focused only part of the time rather than having my focus all over the place all of the time, I’m more comfortable with the idea that whatever will be in the garden will simply be. This year, none of the carrot seeds I sowed germinated. I lost a sweet pepper and a parsley plant a few days after transplanting. Really gross mini slugs have shown up on the tomatillo plants. Whatever. I do what I can to help and then I step away.

And in stepping away, in giving myself permission to believe in “whatever”, in trusting that Mother Nature's got this, something else has happened: I’m enjoying the garden that much more!

Hardening off the plants or what I call, "A tangle of tomatoes and other things that want to move into their permanent homes YESTERDAY!"

Three years ago, I bought one fall-bearing raspberry plant which I trim down after every growing season. Last year, three plants popped up and this year, five!

Overwintering & perennials: a busy part-time gardener's friend. In the raised bed to the left are garlic, onions, and shallots; and there are strawberries in the small raised bed in the background. Outside of the fence are lavender plants, a bee balm, and echinacea which I grew from seed and transplanted last year. Since a lavender and two bee balm plants didn't survive the transition, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many plants made it through the winter!

My beautiful little blueberry bushes...this is the second year in a row that they've produced nothing more than a berry or two. Do you know how difficult it can be to split a blueberry so both T. Rex & the Rabbit get a taste? Ah, well. Whatever...

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