It took almost thirty years for me to grow an appreciation for where food comes from. Sure, I knew that carrots grew under the ground, probably because I loved Pooh Bear books as a kid. But what I didn’t know was how much work actually goes into helping that carrot grow. Tilling the ground to make room from them, digging holes to plant them, pulling weeds that surround them, and watering the ground that shelters them. I may have understood conceptually, but I definitely didn’t have a full understanding of all that goes into a beautiful carrot.
I have an important clarification to bring up at this point. The work of gardening isn’t the biggest factor that has led to my appreciation. In fact, it’s the failures I’ve had in the garden. It’s the times when things just didn’t go exactly as planned. While Mother Nature does a beautiful job of picking up the slack, there are a lot of things that have to go right and a lot of things that have to not go wrong for the miracles, also known as vegetables, to reach maturity as planned.
Take the cauliflower we planted this April, for example. We began them as seeds indoors before it was warm enough to bring them outside. Compared to the tomatoes and peppers, which we also started inside, the cauliflower never looked very healthy. But, we gave them all the tender love and care we could muster and eventually they found their way to a raised bed in the corner of the garden in mid-May. A little over a month later, they looked like this:
I have absolutely no idea what was eating them or how they did it so quickly, but as you can see, our mission to grow cauliflower was an epic failure. When you’ve been working on something for months, it’s hard not to get upset when you have to spend time doing one final chore: pulling up the plants. But it’s through experiences like this one that a newfound appreciation develops for the times when the stars align, everything goes right, and you get to enjoy a delicious carrot snack.
So what’s the best way I’ve found to move on from failures like the one we dealt with tonight with the cauliflower? While eating carrots is definitely a step in the right direction, starting over has proven to be the best therapy for. We planted Swiss chard (which has the coolest looking seeds, by the way) in the holes left behind from the ripped up cauliflower roots and I’m crossing my fingers for the stars to align this round.