Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Growing vegetables... I won't give up!

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I am VERY GOOD at growing weeds! :-) Vegetables, not so much!  Once I regained my mobility a few years ago, I decided that I would once again pursue my love of gardening and attempt to grow my own vegetables, and every year, for the past 4 or 5, I have been disappointed at the harvest. While the old cliché’, “you reap what you sow”, might be true for virtues and such, it doesn’t always hold true for gardening.  Nonetheless, every year, I set out with a renewed spirit and commitment that “THIS YEAR I will finally have an abundance of the summertime treats”.  I told myself that I would not let past disappointments hinder my excitement.

Last year I was certain that planting my crops in large containers to keep the critters out of them, and enable me to grow them in rich black soil would lead to success.  Even moving them to a sunny location was a sure-fire way to get more cucumbers and zucchini than I could eat.  I was certain that LAST YEAR would be the year. I even planted watermelon!  Every morning I would faithfully water my plants and even spoke sweetly to them, but like most other years, I would end up with flowers on the plants that would soon fizzle away before producing fruit. The weather didn’t cooperate: too dry; too hot; too cold; late frost.  The growing season is too short in northern Michigan. The containers didn’t keep the critters out; they just made it so the deer didn’t have to bend down to take a bite out of each little squash that managed to sprout.  In spite of all of this, however, I did manage to get a few green beans, a couple of zucchini, and a few tomatoes, but certainly not the harvest I had hoped….or expected.  Weeds, on the other hand, grew in abundance!

In the early fall, disappointment set in when I realized that I was not successful AGAIN…and I headed out to the farmer’s market on a regular basis to enjoy their harvest.  I told myself that I would just give up on the idea of growing vegetables and stick to my perennials.  By December, though, after purchasing soggy cucumbers and hard, tasteless tomatoes, I began to think about trying again this year. After all, I did get great joy out of caring for my plants and watching them grow, with hope and anticipation. So I read what I could about gardening over the winter; thought about new strategies; found my motivation once again, and decided to try AGAIN.  Certainly, I wouldn’t give up this easy; after all, I’m stubborn and determined. And so…last week, I gave it another shot. I decided to try planting them directly in the ground in the sunniest spot in my yard so I reworked the soil, mixed manure into the sandy soil, and planted a few different kinds of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, and green beans. Of course, like I always do, I planted them WAY TOO CLOSE to each other simply because I was limited on space. I probably planted them too early as well because we ALWAYS get a late frost in early June. Very likely I will run into several of the same issues as in the past, but at least I didn’t give up completely. Score one for determination.

As I planted, I began to think about how similar gardening is to my personal journey, and how important determination and the resolve to keep trying again and again is to our success.   I had tried and failed to lose and keep weight off many times in my younger years, but had I completely given up on my desire to be healthier, it wouldn’t even be possible for me to plant anything. Likely, I would be dead by now.  Every single day of my life, I have to remember why I’m not going to eat a donut for breakfast. I have to remember why I’m going to remain faithful to my plan. I have to remember why I began my journey to begin with, and I have to offer all of it up to God with gratitude.  If I focus on past mistakes or failings; if I dwell on hurts and disappointments; if I give in to temptation and complacency, then I will falter; give up, and eventually fail. Sometimes, even when we do everything right on our journey, we still don’t see the results we want. We still gain or become stagnant. We still can’t reach those goals or get through to that person who is giving us so much pain. And yet….giving up after a bad day….will NEVER get us to the place we want to be, physically, mentally, emotionally….and so forth. We simply have to try again….and again….and again. 

Unless I put a plant in the ground, I can’t expect to grow a watermelon (unless some stray seed grows miraculously, but you get the drift.).  Unless I water/nurture those plants and pay careful attention to protect them from the elements, I’ll never enjoy the taste of a home-grown tomato. Unless I do whatever I can to set them up to be successful, I’m certain to fail.  Likewise, we face the same thing each day. Unless you TRY to change our life by taking small steps in the right direction, you will never see results. Unless you take care of yourself, being gentle, get enough rest, eat good, nutritious food, you’ll never have the healthy body you seek.  Unless you do whatever you can, planning ahead, surrounding yourself with like-minded, supportive people, asking for God’s help, and being grateful for all things, you will certainly never reach your goals. 

Today, I encourage you to make a decision to start over or recommit to a better life. It doesn’t matter how many times you failed before. It doesn’t matter how many reasons you can come up with why it won’t work. It doesn’t matter how hard it seems; how long it will take; or how impossible it is. I truly believe, with God’s grace, you CAN and you WILL change your life.  Will I successfully grow vegetables this year? Perhaps, but even if I don’t, I will be grateful that I can try and I certainly will enjoy the process with anticipation and hope.