This week The Real Dirt is featuring a guest blog from Patrick, Community Gardens Operations Coordinator. Patrick grew up in Wisconsin, and from day one wanted to be outside whenever possible. While earning his degree from the University of Montana, Patrick enrolled in the PEAS Farm class, and couldn’t give it up – staying for two semesters and a summer session. Through the PEAS Farm and his Environmental Studies Program classes, he’s decided he wants to keep working on local food efforts now that he has earned his degree. When he’s not digging in the dirt, he is hiking, biking or fishing with his dog, Lola.
For many of us, gardening can offer a deeper and more tangible relationship with our surroundings. Weather it is mingling with fellow gardeners, spending some time outside, or appreciating your hard work and dedication after taking a bite into a delicious garden meal; gardening can offer a much needed dose of connection with our place.
But with this delve into our very real and unpredictable surroundings, comes certain realities that we must accept. These may come in the form of an early fall frost, as many of us saw this week, or countless other instances that we may or may not expect. We may get a strangely warm April and be coaxed into giving our peppers and tomatoes an early start, just to have an unexpected late frost take them out. Our spring greens may go to seed seemingly immediately due to an abnormally hot stint. We may lose track of time and put off watering just a bit too long, returning to a sad, dry patch wilting on a hot, dry day. Or it could be a band of hail that obliterates every leaf in your garden, just when it was really starting to take off. All of these happenings, though extremely disheartening and frustrating, can also be a powerful reminder that many things are simply out of our hands.
Some things are just plain unfortunate, such as a sudden hail storm. Not much we can do against that. Yet, other battles we can learn from. We may reconsider putting our warm weather crops out for an early start after losing a crop a few years back. Covering susceptible plants as the weather cools in the fall may come more natural next year. We may construct some form of shade to help our spring greens though a hot streak, or grow them in the shade of a tall or climbing crop in an attempt to help them survive in the summer’s heat.
These days, we are lucky to have things like floating row cover, shade cloth, and weather forecast that help us prepare and get through some of the uncertainties. Yet, despite our best efforts, one of the greatest aspects of gardening is the reminder of uncertainty, that while participating in the natural world, somethings are just what they are. All we can do is try our best from year to year, and learn from our experiances.