Disappointment in the dirt

My fall crop was a dud.

Yes, the fall crop I was so excited about, the fall crop I had managed to plant for the very first time, the fall crop of beets, turnips, lettuce and radishes–it failed. Miserably.

With all the reading about vegetable gardening that I did on my sabbatical, I was sure I had it figured out. I put the dates on my calender according to Patrick Lima’s advice (he is an author and gardener extraordinaire in Ontario). I couldn’t believe it when I was actually organized enough to plant a whole flat of rutabaga in July and keep it moist until it germinated in the hot summer weather. All I had to do was wait for them to grow.

That turned out to be the problem. My seeds sprouted, all right. The rutabagas got big enough to transplant into the ground and the tiny leaves from the red beets and heritage variety lettuce emerged in long rows. But then days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and nothing more happened. They just sat there, not growing, not dying, just subbournly sitting still. The only thing that grew at all was one radish, and it is so small it couldn’t even be used as a garnish.

This week, in November, I finally gave up all hope. Those veggies will never amount to anything before the snow flies. I have left the little rows of plant stubble in the ground (perhaps a sign of my pathetic optimism) but there is not enough sunshine or warmth left in the season to help them along. I tried. I failed.

That’s how it is sometimes. Things just don’t work out the way we planned and there is no way to fix it. Even careful preparation, good advice and high hopes can’t guarantee success. When that happens there is nothing left but disappointment.

I am trying to remember that although these seeds are now too far gone, next season is really only a few months away (March perhaps, and April for certain). There will be new seeds, new seedlings, and another opportunity for growing. It won’t be the same, of course–it was growing in the fall season that was so exciting–but it will still be lettuce and beets.

And sometimes that’s just the way it is. What we hoped for is gone and nothing we do or say can change it. But before long another opportunity will come along–another relationship,  another job, another experience. It won’t be the same, but it will be something. And who knows? Maybe it will be better than what we had planned the first time around. I guess for now, my disappointing vegetables and I will just have to wait and see.

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4 Responses to Disappointment in the dirt

  1. Stacey says:

    i forgot to tell you this weekend that I still have tomatoes. I moved my patio pot inside – it’s the giant plant with miniature fruit you gave me way back. It is still giving my ripe fruit – hoping that I can make it all the way to December with fresh tomatoes:)

  2. Well that’s certainly not disappointing! We should get together–I have some very nice garlic to go with those fresh tomatoes.

  3. a lovely post, eventhough as you say things didn’t work to plan. Sometimes seeds, weather, bugs, soil seem to throw their worst at us gardeners, and as you say that’s when we start to think about the next season. Roll on Spring!

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