Losing In the Garden

August, for those in the northern hemisphere, is a time when many gardeners and workers of the earth can feel overwhelmed and despair. It is a time when the scorching heat can finish off our struggling crops. It is a time when many are pushed to practice unsustainable water usage. August is when we can finally write off those crops that we always thought had a chance of making it and producing food (for me it was multiple Roma tomato plants, pumpkin plants, several summer squash plants, and watermelon plants). It is a time when we can feel like we are losing.

For me, I can feel like I have lost the summer. I have wasted my time and efforts for the season. I believe I fall into this negative thought when I begin to compare my garden with others. Or when I get lost in the numbers of how many pounds per foot did I produce. These are important aspects to a successful garden but we should not get hung up on these details, especially if they are negative. We can use them to learn from and to make our garden more efficient and effective.

As a garden teacher, I sometimes think I have failed my students. I want to show them a wide variety of food that can be grown locally and work to inspire them to take on similar efforts. I want to show them that they can be connected to their food systems. So, when I feel I have lost a chance a teaching valuable lessons I concentrate on what I have shown them. Yes, I may have not been able to show them local delicious watermelon but I did show them carrots, strawberries, and kale (for their kale chips). It can be difficult but I need to remind myself to concentrate on what I have accomplished and not what I have failed to do.

Also, I need to remind myself that, when in the garden or out in nature, it is not about winning or losing. It is about experiencing the natural world around me and learning from it. It is about fully immersing myself in the local ecosystem in which I am working. I want to pass on an attitude of openness and positive experience to the students, not one of competition and scrutiny.

So, as August comes to an end along with many of our crops, let us look back on the summer and think about all of the amazing things we accomplished over the past several months. Let us think about the seeds we started, the soil we worked, the positive experiences we had in nature, and to remember that we are fortunate to have our gardens to work in. Let us learn from the good and the bad and move on to our fall gardens. Enjoy planting your leafy greens and remember to take care of your soil.