Monday, April 21, 2014

Encouragement Required

I'm sure that some of my former students would recall my advice for what to do when the nagging voices in their heads started to tell them that they couldn't accomplish something, especially that they couldn't write. I told them to tell that voice in no uncertain terms to SHUT UP. Today is one of those days that I have to take my own advice.

When we lived in Michigan, I may have become a little emboldened by my successes in the vegetable garden. I put food on our table and reserves in our freezer. In short, every time I went into the garden, I felt pretty magnificent. Not so in Florida, and it is taking every molecule of self-control I have not to go on a full-blown rant.

My Kentucky Wonder pole beans were initially a wonder, indeed. They were scrambling up the arches I had built and looking fabulous. This weekend, though, I began to notice that the leaves were looking a little strange. I researched the problem, and I'm pretty sure that they have bean leaf mosaic virus.

The sick leaves

Now, I believe most disappointments in life are an opportunity to learn something useful. So my first thought (after "you are a horrible gardener" and "another season down the drain") was what this new problem is trying to tell me about my soil. But so far as I can find in my research, it's not telling me anything about my soil. It's telling me that I have aphids (but I haven't seen any) or that the seeds had the virus. Then again, if I look a little further down the rows, I see that my pepper plants are suffering a similar crinkling, which would suggest that they, too, have a virus.

I'm beginning to think that when I constructed this garden, it merely served as a massive billboard to all forms of pestilence and disease that said, "Here lives a hopeful gardener. Come, suck every drop of that hopeful sap out of her."

I recall watching an episode of the BBC series "The Edible Garden" with Alys Fowler. She was feeling bruised about a catastrophic tomato failure the year before as a result of blight. She was nervous. She decided to give it a go again, even building measures to safeguard her crop. It all got hit with blight again, and she bitterly proclaimed that she would never try to grow tomatoes again unless someone could assure her that they had created a blight-resistant variety. I understand her heartbreak. I put all of my energy into beans and peppers for this season, and it looks like it will be for nothing.

So I've decided to gaze on my side garden and lick my wounds for a while. Neighbors may hear me yelling "SHUT UP!" over and over again and wonder if I've gone over the deep end. The personal pep talks are necessary at present, though, so I'll have to risk it.

At least my New Dawn rose provides some hope

The side garden is in bloom


  1. I do remember that advice! And I find it works. Sometimes, I full on close the door to my office in a symbolic "locking out" of those Negative Nellies in my head (multiple Nellies in one head is distressing). You'll figure this out, and hey, stand back and look at the whole big, beautiful garden you've created!

    1. Ah, I'm so glad that piece of advice has been useful to you! I seem to be chanting "Shut Up!" all day today.