Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rambling Man

Mark has this to say:

Kate brought up an important point yesterday when I was fussing with some of the peppers under the grow lights. To paraphrase, "You are taking all of the fun out of gardening." This wasn't the first time that I've heard this criticism, not even the first time that day. She's referring to my obsessive attention to miniscule "problems" that may or may not exist. For instance, I've been making little wood shims to prop up some of the shorter pepper seedlings so they get more light. I've also previously described the repotting of the leeks which was probably overcomplicated by me and possibly unnecessary. How can I even tell if I'm enjoying the process?

I know that I need to develop a more carefree and zen approach to gardening. Kate and my continued amicable gardening experience depends on this. You can probably tell from my meticulous blog entries that I'm way too detail oriented for my own good, not to mention downright pedantic. There is a time and place for concern and unease but these sentiments cannot permeate the entire experience.

Being a confirmed obsessive-compulsive, I tend to overanalyze. This trait has its strengths and weaknesses. My enthusiasm and attention to detail are impressive, but it's not enough for me to simply participate. I immerse myself in endless research, which eventually leads to a state of mania. Right now I'm obsessed with getting all of the seedlings off to a strong start, but I'm haunted by the notion that I can always tweak the process to produce even better results. After all, who wants to put in hours of labor only to fizzle out in the eleventh hour and receive nothing but failure in return? However, this outlook can produce disappointment when unexpected calamities which are beyond my control occur. Sometimes seeds don't sprout. Flea beetles may turn eggplant leaves into swiss cheese. Rain doesn't materialize, or worse, soaks the land with mold-inducing, fungus-spawning surfeit. No amount of preparation can prepare me to deal with these sorts of unforeseen challenges that all gardeners are forced to deal with eventually.

For me, there is no worse feeling than knowing that a window of opportunity is closing. There is always an optimum time to plant, transplant, and harvest any particular crop, but this schedule never dovetails nicely with the demands of normal life. Pruning is optimally done in the spring at the exact same time when seed-starting obligations take precedence. Compost is best and most easily made during the summer, but only if well-shredded leaves are available from the previous fall.

Furthermore, gardening often takes a back seat to the more mundane (to some) aspects of life. I claim to enjoy gardening for its relaxing and restorative properties. Playing "beat the clock" against nature is contrary to this goal and is ultimately a losing battle. Even though I understand this in principle, I find it difficult put this sort of laissez-faire nonchalance into practice.

My new mantra is to take a more natural approach to growing plants (this should be a no-brainer). I'm frustrated that I have to force myself to just relax and enjoy the ride. Nature dictates nature, and I'm only a lowly metalhead, a novice meddler at best. I could probably learn a lot more if I just stopped and smelled the roses rather than trying to micromanage them.

No comments: