Friday, September 11, 2015

Today in The Garden- Neglect

I was warned that it would happen. Once I started working outside the house, my garden would suffer. The blog would suffer. I just wouldn't have the time to deal with these 'hobbies' anymore.

Some kind of wilt has decimated the pumpkins and squash.
I had found a milk-water remedy that I was going to try,
but I just haven't found the time to rescue my plants

The warnings ended up coming true. But I really didn't realized how much I would neglect my garden.

Let me back up a little. A few weeks ago, I took the plunge. After twelve years of working for myself, I got an outside-of-the-house job. It was a huge step for me, one that I knew would be coming but that I didn't know exactly how to prepare for. I had job-hunted all summer, went on interviews, terrified, feeling completely out of practice in the 'real, grown-up' world. I landed a position. The terror and the nerves intensified, because I am utterly resistant to change of any kind. I still tended the garden, but my mind started to feel very preoccupied and unfocused.

Now that I've started the job, my time is sucked up and my mind is sucked dry. I didn't feel like I had a ton of time before I got the job; I may have been at home, but I wasn't a stay-at-home-mom in the strictest sense. I always had lots of other kids in the house because I've run a daycare in our home for the past 12 years. My daycare was my life, my passion; the days were filled with activities, runs in my big van to pick up preschoolers and school-agers, snacks, meals, playtime, cleanup, outside time and field trips. I had my daycare program set up with great structure and our days were always a controlled chaos, a whirlwind. It was SO busy! I figured that once I started working, I'd come home with lots of energy; refreshed and missing my house, missing the garden, ready to spend a couple hours gardening and blogging. I'd start a lovely, quiet evening ritual--a longed-for ritual that most definitely has NOT happened.

Glorious Red Chinese Noodle beans.
All of them unharvested, past their prime.
At least I'll be able to save some seed for next year.

I don't come home ready to garden. I come home exhausted. My brain is full. My body is sore. My new job as an assistant at an elementary school is more challenging than I thought it would be. I have had to adjust to a whole new world of clocks and schedules-- routines I no longer get to make myself. All those years that my husband told me I was so lucky to be my own boss? I know now how he must have envied my ability to run the day however I saw fit. Which included all those glorious hours I got to spend in the garden with my daycare kids. We planted, weeded, harvested, snapped photos, relaxed, enjoyed. Even if it was only a 10-minute break from our normal planned learning and play activities, we worked gardening into our day and had a fantastic time doing it. The garden responded by thriving (usually) and looking, well, happy.

The garden doesn't look so happy anymore.

Somewhere in that weedy, messy south bed is a garden.
Look closer, and you'll find dozens of tomatoes,
rotting on their vines. Unpicked. Sad.

I come home most afternoons now and instead of tending the veggies, I veg inside. It doesn't help that it's been unbearably hot the past couple weeks. It seems I've lost the magic I once had for enticing my sons to venture out with me--instead of tromping out to garden, we are more likely to lay around inside reading, watching TV, or just doing nothing. By the time I might be somewhat inclined to go and take a look at my garden, or open the laptop to write on the blog, it's time for homework, supper, and bedtime rituals, That fleeting moment of motivation, lost for another day. Usually about the time I'm brushing my teeth, after everyone else has been settled and tucked in, I have a moment of panic--'another whole day, gone! I will have to get up and do the whole working routine again in the morning, and nothing is done!' I've always worked, HARD. But this is different, this leaving-the-house thing. Leaving my gardens alone all day. I adore the challenges of my new job (I still get to be with kids and my heart is just as full as ever), and I know I'm on the path I need to be on. But my absence from home each day is showing.

Pests, having a heyday, completely un-dealt with.
They are loving my inattention to the garden!

In time maybe I will adjust to a new way of life--this working life--and I will find the motivation I need to keep up with it all. It's been three and a half weeks into the job and I am just now starting to feel like I have a little something left each evening. Well, not always. But sometimes. In the meantime, my garden has wilted under the complete neglect. The biggest problem? Veggies that need harvested and instead go unpicked, and then go past the point of edibility. That is where I feel the most shame.

The green beans just keep coming, ready to grow and be picked continually, not noticing my disappearance. There are a few harvests yet to come; the carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatillos. They whisper silent promises; "We are still here. Tend to us, there is still time!" There is also the exciting prospect of the cold-weather crops and the hoop houses I planned for last spring.

This bed still looks lush. A happy bee nestles in a marigold.
Peppers and sweet potatoes grow happily without me.

I remember when people who worked outside the home told me they simply didn't have time to garden, and I never fully believed them. I thought maybe it just wasn't important enough for them to prioritize their time. However, now that I'm gone most of the day, and now that the hours I am home, I need to tend to all the normal family-and-kids-stuff, time is severely lacking. If I can figure out a way to prioritize the garden, especially during the weekends (which seem to be just as busy as weekdays), then I may be able to figure out the trick.

There IS a way to grow food while working outside of the home. I know there is a way, because many people are doing just that. I vow to figure it out; I am up for the challenge. Garden, hold on! I have not forgotten you.


  1. are entering the busiest years of raising a family. I will never forget the year I had a son starting Kindergarten, a son entering 6th grade and a daughter entering 10th. As I dropped them off to school that day...our lives was a whirlwind for the next 4 yrs. I did not garden much during that time with the exception of tomatoes and cukes. While I worked part-time it did not feel part-time as it was stressful to just survive the school year activities of soccer, band and horse back riding. Not to mention homework, projects and the like. It wasn't until the our youngest turned 10 that I was able to get back into gardening, etc. Although, had I been armed with my current knowledge...I think I could have maintained a small garden through out. But hindsight is 50/50. If I may offer you some advice....On 2 evening meals a week make enough to make a left over meal. It may be you already do this but if not start pronto. It is a time saver and will really help you maximize your time. For example: on Sunday fix what ever meal your family loves but make extra and freeze it for Wed hump day. The same goes for the second meal which will become Fri night left overs. For example ...Sunday evening I would fix traditional spaghetti( with noodles on the bottom and topped with veggie spaghetti sauce). I would make a huge pot of both noodles and sauce. Using the left overs in a casserole dish....spread a couple of spoonfuls of sauce on the bottom, then layer noodles, 1/2 remaining sauce, then sprinkle 8 oz of mozzarella cheese,and then repeat with layers of all 3 ending with cheese on top. On the last layer sprinkle some parmesan on top of the shredded chesse. Put this in the Frig for Wed evening. Pull it out, Bake 375 for 30-40 minutes until warm in middle and cheese melted. Let cool and then cut into squares. I would make a 10 x 13 casserole...any leftovers were frozen. It freezes wonderfully and reheats in microwave or oven. I did this mac and cheese(freezes great). Another meal we did a lot of was chili pie with left over chili. Not only does this save time but money. You will resist the urge to eat out because you are pooped(trust me on this). I am betting you already make extra homemade pizza for leftovers? My philosophy was if I had to grill chicken then grill 2 lbs and freeze it. We loved grilled chicken on top of Barilla bowties...with kidney beans, cukes, and whatever else you like with your fav dressing, serve with Italian bread and done. I think it takes 11 mins to cook pasta...and the grilled chicken thawed tastes great. Anyhoo....I could go on forever...but embrace those leftovers! I didn't initially do the left over meals but due to the economy I started to plan our meals around left overs and once I did....I was like..why I have not being doing this! Lol....sometimes you got to learn the hard way!

    1. Your reply has meant the WORLD to me! Get this--our kids are the same age spans. I don't know if I ever knew that! This school year my kids are in 1st, 7th, and 11th. I felt like I had it all figured out by now...but time has become more short than ever. I technically work part-time--I'm home by 2:30. But I immediately start picking up my kids from school/ activities (and a few nights a week I also pick up/ continue to watch a couple of my daycare schoolage kids). Just being gone for the majority of the day has made it next to impossible to keep up with anything at all. Thanks for these meal tips, because that is one area I'm struggling with. Just knowing someone I admire so much can RELATE has made my entire day! Thank you so so much for this comment. <3

  2. Lol....see we may be years apart in age but look at us...we had our kids in the same span.... how cool is that? Living simply in today's world requires a little finesse and we can all benefit from those who have been there. I sure wish someone had encouraged me to cook with idea that leftovers are your friend. Funny thing about the spaghetti, my youngest doesn't really "love" traditional spaghetti on a plate but he loves the casserole. Go figure that one! Even tho our children are grown and have left with the nest...(well the older 2 have, our youngest still lives with us) we still cook with idea of making left over meals. It is still the best time saver of all. Oh, and another quick breakfast meal is burritos. Scramble a doz eggs(drain well), add whatever the kids like. We use onions and peppers in ours. Sprinke with cheese Use the small torilla's)and roll up and freeze. Take them out the night before to thaw and microwave. Great to eat in the car on way to school! Hang in there you will learn to adapt! Enjoy those boys for the years will past quickly and in a blink of eye be grown. Somehow despite it all managed to raise 3 bright, funny, caring adults. They are my greatest achievement for sure!

    1. I so appreciate your encouragement and advice. I hope that when my boys are grown I don't feel regrets about these busy, stressful years!

  3. i like the your collection of seed. its a very good habbit to plant your own vegetables as it totally oragnic and free from hrsh chemicals.

  4. Actually the article is very practical. Thank you!


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