Remember, back in the spring, when I started my little garden? Remember how I had little beds, and they grew and grew, and I had amazing tomato plants and bodi and I thought that the curse that had plagued me my whole life, the one that made me physically incapable of growing green things, had been lifted? That now, in fact, I was the Empress of all that is Green?
Yeah, well, not so much anymore.
My confidence has been shattered. Oh, the tomatoes grew great, and my bodi plants produced until they couldn't produce anymore ...
... and then summer came.
To be clear, this summer was mild, by historic standards: the other night, a local weatherman mentioned that this was the first summer in Houston that didn't reach triple-digit temperatures since something like the 1940s. Still, summers in Houston are no joke: they're hot and humid and uncomfortable. My carrots, which I planted in March, couldn't deal: they were puny and sad. Even my bodi and tomato plants eventually gave up their wills to live.
But! I persevered! I consulted my oracle (also known as my friend Laura Mayes, she of the gorgeous garden), who urged me on. "No!" she cried. "You must keep going! Now is the time you plant black-eyed peas! And watermelon! And okra! And peppers! And gourds! LOTS AND LOTS OF GOURDS."
So, since I always do whenever Laura tells me to, I ran out and bought things. I bought watermelon seeds! And a bag of black-eyed peas at the grocery store! I bought a few seedlings -- peppers and okra. (I didn't get the gourds. I had no room for gourds). And I planted them. I went out there and watered them every day, as the temperature continued to climb, and the humidity continued to climb, and dear Lord, the mosquito population continued to climb. (An aside: the mosquitos were insane this year. It didn't matter what kind of insect repellent I wore, either -- those bad boys acted like I was just spraying on aphrodisiac. I'm pretty convinced that by the time July rolled around, I was pretty much made of mosquito bites.)
My peppers and okras grew -- kind of. So far, I've gotten three okras, and they each grew weeks apart, which is sort of difficult (it's kind of hard to divide an okra 3 ways). But they were beautiful okras. Also, even though I've only gotten 2 peppers off of my pepper plants, they were delicious as well.
But my seeds -- oh, oh they were not good. The black-eyed peas seedlings popped through the soil in no time at all, took a look around, and withered just as quickly. And my watermelon? Well ...
... I don't want to talk about it.
By the time August came around, I just sort of gave up. I found that there was no incentive for me to go out and brave the mosquito hordes, so I moved my mint plants to my patio, and just prayed for rain. Every few days I'd go out and check my plants to make sure they were still alive, but I hadn't been giving them the daily love that I was giving in spring and early summer. And as I poured little cups of water on my mint by simply peeking out my back door for a few seconds every day, I tried to tamp down the rising feeling of guilt in my gut.
But then I went to Google, and found this calendar of when things should be planted in Houston -- and discovered that for the most part, August is a quiet time -- things are just not planted in Houston during that month. The guilt started to ebb.
Now, it's September -- my happy new year time. So I consulted my oracle again, and she told me, "Yes! Tomatoes! Beets! Kale! More peppers!" So between Laura and my trusty little calendar, this weekend I cleared out and turned my beds, and went and bought some seedlings (no seeds this time!).
I bought two kinds of tomato plants (I mean, my last tomato plants did well, so I might as well go with what I know, right?).
And some cabbage (because the nursery didn't have any kale seedlings).
And because this-here's Texas, I bought some jalapeño plants.
And as I was out there yesterday, sweating and hoeing and digging and planting, I realized that I was ready again to go out and give my beds daily love again. And honestly, I started to realize that perhaps my pull to rest during the hottest of the summer months wasn't anything to feel guilty about. I mean, perhaps one of the tricks to productivity -- whether in my garden, or in my work as a whole -- is to go with the cycles, and ebbs and flows. Maybe there's no reason to feel shame about rest. Maybe rest means renewal of energy. It can mean renewal of focus.
Anyway, we'll see. The weather should start to get cooler, which means the mosquitos will start to disappear. The humidity will drop, and my garden should start to feel comfortable again.
We'll see how it goes, yes?