Abandon and Opportunity in the Veggie Garden

Words by
Natasha Grogan
| May 4, 2018

This summer, a rat came to live in our garden while we had the nerve to go on a holiday. He or she had the merriest time feasting on all of the sweet seasonal produce on offer — corn, zucchinis, tomatoes — and when we returned, my months of preparation, tender love and care, had disappeared into the fat belly of a gluttonous rodent!

This affected me in ways that I found hard to recover from. I couldn’t be bothered with the garden anymore; my usual enthusiasm was drained. That hungry beast had made me feel like life was giving me the massive finger. I mean, things were hard enough without being defeated by a greedy rat who tore through months of work and dedication in my vegetable garden in one week of binge eating.

I ignored my garden. I was bitter. I spent little time outside. I set up rat traps and harvested the food that survived, but my heart wasn’t in it.”

Life got tricky and my energy was being pushed and pulled in other directions. I was seeing everything in the harshest light and the garden became one of the villains in my story. Big sunflowers had grown and toppled over into other plants, the weight of their big heads crushing the growth beneath, and I left them where they landed. Tomatoes snapped and spread, their fruit splitting down the middle in protest. I left them to it. I abandoned my garden.

As life goes, however, with abandon comes opportunity. My dreams of a bountiful summer garden were over, but somewhere amongst the neglected and overgrown chaos of it’s remains was the possibility to start again. The stunted and over-ripe fruit of the faded summer plants were ready to be pulled from the ground, and with their farewell I began to see the possibility to turn things around.

I decided to tackle the garden in sections, acting only when the mood hit me and without adding any unnecessary pressure on myself.

I started adding compost, mulching and removing spent plants. I continued to ignore the fallen sunflower in the main bed.”

I planted, I even got excited about planting again! I fell in love with coloured cauliflower and crinkly cabbages. I thought about what I wanted to eat and what I would be able to share. New life began to breathe into my abandoned garden again. Soon enough I will find myself picking up those sunflower heads, pulling out the seeds to save for next summer. Soon but not yet.

Of course, this story isn’t just about my garden. It’s about hope. In the face of abandon, there is always hope, encouraging you to put your will into gear and make something better than before. So, here I stand, in a place somewhere between abandon and opportunity, with a heart full of hope and the will to keep moving forward. Rats, or no rats.

Sunflower image by Greg O’Beirne, sourced from Wikipedia Commons.


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