Saturday, July 20, 2013

Nice Work!

Montana is the only place I've ever lived where people say congratulations when I tell them I'm harvesting from my garden. As I've mentioned before, gardening here is an ambitious effort. With an average growing season of 74 days, we often see our last frost in early June and our first one at the beginning of September. We live at a high altitude, deal with frequent high winds, hail, and poor soil conditions. At this time of year, we're often dealing with drought conditions combined with water restrictions, which can make caring for the plants extra tricky.

I will admit that my other half and I are a bit above average when it comes to our gardening efforts. This is our fourth summer gardening together and I like to think that we're starting to get the hang of it. We've learned what plants do well (peas, lettuce, squash) and what isn't worth the effort (corn, cabbage,  melons). We've brought in soil, which was deposited in our driveway in a hill and we moved it to the back yard with shovels, wheelbarrows and the help of family members. We start planning our garden in January and order seeds which we plant indoors beginning in March. This year we had a common problem in that our tomatoes were six inches tall and ready to go in the soil but it was still too cold to put them out.

The first few weeks that things are in the ground are always nerve wracking. Sometimes we have to cover plants overnight with tarps to avoid frost. But once June is in full swing and the days are long and sunny, things start to take root and flourish.

This summer is unique because I'm not working. I've been able to send much more time in the garden than previous summers. It has been therapeutic for me as well, as I've cried over and recovered from my loss, and thought about my future with my toes in the dirt. I'm usually pretty emotionally invested in the garden but this year I am even more so. I haven't decided if that's good or bad! I've lost a couple plants for various reasons and it really bums me out. My carrots are doing better than they ever have and I attribute that to all the time I've spent thinning, weeding and tilling around them. Earlier this week I harvested my first sugar snap peas. I bit into one right there in the garden. It was warm from the sun, sweet and crispy. I felt full inside, with pride and a sense of accomplishment different from previous harvests.

I do believe everything happens for a reason. There's never a good time for bad things to happen but the timing of everything that happened to me this spring couldn't have been better. If it was winter and I was cooped up in the house, I know my rough few weeks would have stretched on and on. Instead, even though I was sad or worried, I'd make myself go outside at least once a day to water the plants and check on them. I look forward to eating from the garden as the summer goes on, but especially this winter, when we'll eat salsas, jams and frozen veggies we've preserved. Even though it might remind me of a sad time, it will be proof of what I was able to do during that time. Sometimes it's amazing to me that I've accomplished anything at all over the past two months. If I can do this now, I know that when I'm healed and motivated, I will be able to conquer anything I put my mind to!


  1. Those radishes are beautiful. You are doing a great job. I like your blog.

  2. Great job! I'm not a gardener but I can appreciate it as we spent most of this summer up in Canada with my husband's parents and his mom is an avid gardener...we helped her pick strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes etc... it was fun! But I know it's a lot of work- so CONGRATS~ ;-)

  3. Great garden! We are on vacation this week and stopped at one of the many produce stands we passed on our way down. We picked up some luscious I want some fresh veggies!

  4. garden looks great & glad you have had extra time to spend in it -- this year our garden is a complete bust & it really bumms me out!

  5. Yummy! I'll be right over for a fresh garden salad!!