Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How Doesn't Your Garden Grow? (an IWSG post)

We were late planting our garden this year. There were issues with softball, softball that I've been mentioning on and off since March and which started in February, softball which still has two weeks to go.
That's a picture of my daughter hitting a double.
Basically, since March, we've had no weekends, so the garden didn't get planted when it should have. We had the last weekend of May and the first weekend of June, the interim between the spring season and the travel ball season, and that first weekend in June is when we finally got everything planted, a full two months late.

Some of you are probably wondering what would be the point, at that point?
It's a good question.
I mean, here we are in August, and our garden still really hasn't started producing. I didn't pull the first tomatoes from it until July 23.
Yeah, that was the first of our harvest, all five of them. There was one very early and overly ambitious pepper, back in June, right after I planted it, but there haven't been anymore since then, but they're working on it. This year, I'm also trying watermelons and pumpkins for the first time in my experimental garden area. I think I missed the watermelon window. That or the birds keeping eating my baby melons, because they keep disappearing. The pumpkin has become a monster.
Here it is a week after I planted it (that's it in the lower right):
And not long after that:
And now:
And you might think that looks great, and it does... except that everyone else already has orange pumpkins. And we haven't had our tomatoes, which are a big thing for us during the summer. Tomatoes everywhere. All of which brings me back to the question: Why bother with the garden at all when we started it so late?

Fortunately, the area of California where we live has a long growing season. I think I was still pulling tomatoes off the vines in October, last year, so, even though we planted late, we should still actually get a pretty decent harvest. Eventually. Not that that makes it easier to look at everyone else's gardens with all of their abundance of produce. I mean, I actually accepted tomatoes from someone else last week, something I've never done before because we've always been overflowing with tomatoes at this time of year.

All of this is how I sometimes feel about my writing career. That I planted it too late. My sales are like those few little tomatoes in the picture. I'm just hoping I prove to have a long growing season like the area where I live!


  1. That's the good thing though - it's never too late. Neither season nor age matter.
    Softball every weekend? I'd go insane...

  2. Never really had a garden. Tried growing tomatoes and we were always away when they were ready to be picked. Only thing we ever grow now is herbs.

  3. Well really don't you want your pumpkins to not turn orange until October? That's prime pumpkin season so hopefully yours will be at its peak then. Which is probably another writing lesson: better to peak too late than peak too soon.

  4. You have to start at some point, and I hear tell it takes about 10 years to really have a strong readership and to have made it, so I really think it's a question of perseverance and patience--as in the garden is planted, but the fruits take a long time to appear. Here's to make it through the in between, eh?

  5. I remember you saying you got a late start on gardening. Your poor little pumpkin plant looks so sad with nary and open bloom, let alone a pumpkin. That time with your daughter was more valuable than 'mater and pumpkins.

  6. Never regret spending extra time with your children... they grow so fast and are soon ready to leave the nest. And, remember, all these experiences are also helping your writing "grow"... you will use the richness of your memories to flesh out your characters when you write. Good luck with your garden!

  7. We actually didn't do softball this year for this very reason (well, not tomatoes, but time) Sports are awesome, but they do eat up the weekends.
    Your garden-writing analogy is a good one for me, too. Every year I plant a large garden. I plot it out and buy the seedlings and get it all set... and by August it is weed-filled and forgotten. I rarely remember to water, the cucumbers died weeks ago from neglect, and though I have plenty of tomatoes, sometimes they rot on the vine. Same with writing. I can do the writing part, and the editing - it's the promotion and marketing follow through where I generally fail!

    But I think trying is the important part. And I like to remind myself with sales: there is no end date. Those books will continue to sell even when you are old and gray.

    Thanks for sharing this post! :)

  8. Your garden sounds like mine. My pumpkins took over the back yard. The melons are stretching out too. And the tomatoes, whooboy! It's like a jungle back there.

    I wish the same type of overgrowth for your career!


  9. I can sympathize with the feeling of having started late. Some days I feel I'm too old to pursue writing as anything more than a hobby. I just don't have the same ambition as I did when I was younger.

  10. Wow, we'd never get away with that here! California: where all your gardening dreams come true.

  11. I feel like I wasted a lot of time when I put my lifelong dream of publication on the back burner, though I was writing all that time. Now I realize it just wasn't the right time yet, for either me or my books. Slow and steady wins the race, and my goal is to be a writer for all time, not someone who's only famous for a few years and then consigned to the bargain tables.

  12. If it makes you feel any better, I got my garden in early and only used seeds I had left over from last year. Everything started coming up right away and looked awesome with little effort on my part (which is good because I have no time for the garden this year). Oh yes, the making you feel better part. The tomatoes died within days of sprouting. The lettuce tasted funky so we stopped picking it. Rabbits ate my peas and beans and now I'm left with one determined little cucumber plant, a bunch of potatoes and pumpkins running rampant over the whole weed-filled mess. Ah well, at least I'll have pumpkins.

  13. What an apt metaphor! I love the tomatoes and the baby pumpkins. Thanks for the great guitar quote you left on my blog. It was beautiful. :)

  14. Alex: yeah, Pretty much. We did have a couple of weekends off due to a cancelled tournament during July.

    Jo: We haven't had the best of luck with herbs, actually. The tomatoes always wipe them out.

    Pat: We don't only eat pumpkin during October and November, and these are eating pumpkins, not carving ones.

    Crystal: It can be a long wait. The pumpkins are fun in that way, because they grow fast and big. Of course, then they take a long time to get ripe.

    Anne: I'll post some pictures of the pumpkin, now, sometime soon. It's taken over the backyard. I love the flowers! They are so big!

    Lauri: Oh, yeah, I never regret that. Except when they make we want to walk off and pretend they belong to someone else. :P

    amelia: I'm pretty good with the watering, especially since we left our irrigation hose attached last year and it was no good this year when we wanted to use it. That's what I get for not putting it away for the winter. Lots of watering by water jug, now.

    Loni: Our tomatoes are a little more tame this year because of planting late; usually, they are all over the place.


    Rajiv: Thank you.

    L.G.: I'm too competitive to lose my ambition.

    TAS: That's pretty true.

    Carrie-Anne: Longevity is a good thing.

    Jean: Funky lettuce... that could make an interesting story.
    I do worry about gophers with the pumpkins, but we've been okay so far. We might put the pumpkins up on boards or bricks, though.

    Lexa: Sure thing! Dylan as done by U2, though you can't tell that from the quote. You can only tell that in my head.

  15. I got my garden in late this year, too, but it's pretty much just tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. I'm starting to think about what I want to do for a fall garden, though.

    I just started harvesting tomatoes last week. And boy are the coming in now... last time I weighed them, I'd picked at LEAST five lbs, and I've easily picked twice that again. It's insane.

  16. It could be the premise for a Steinbeck novel - the 21st century suburbia update.

  17. No worries. I think writing has a long growing season, too.

    I hope your garden comes to fruition :)

  18. Rebekah: I got my first real handful of tomatoes, tonight. We only grow cherry tomatoes.

    TAS: That could be true. Tomato Flat.

    Jeanne: It might be starting to.

    S.L.: Me, either. Except when it is.

  19. Love this post. Not only can I relate to getting a late start to the growing season (it's not safe to plant until around Memorial Day here in my area of CO), but I also know what it's like to lose weekends to youth sports (unfortunately I don't have any photos of doubles...we've gotten a whole lot of medical bills, though. Funny, I never even realized how many ways there are to get injured in baseball).

    If it makes you feel any better, garden-wise, our tomatoes are still green. And one of my critique partners in Seattle keeps telling me about her blackberry bushes which makes me insanely jealous.

    Wishing you luck with the pumpkins! It's one of the coolest things to grow in my opinion~ and a great lesson in patience for the kiddies (okay, and the adults)~ reminds me of writing a novel and the publishing business in general. Lots o' waiting.

  20. There may not be many yet, but the tomatoes you got seem like good ones. Especially that big tear-drop one!..And it seems like you planted plenty of excellent 'softball seeds'. At least you have the promise of a long growing season, and I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who feels that my career was planted too late!

  21. The only reason I think you may have started too late is that years ago, there was less competition. But I don't know if that would necessarily be a good thing. I think that the rise of the internet has made it possible for so many more opportunities. So hmmm. I actually don't think you started too late if that makes any sense. I think you started at just the right time.

  22. TAS: The Melon Is Down

    Jessica: We've managed, so far, to not have any injuries, despite a ball to the throat during a game (her coaches had to make her come out).
    We don't grow blackberries; they grow all over the place around here. We just had a blackberry cobbler from berries we picked earlier this week.

    Eva: The little orange ones are my favorite. I'm not actually that big on tomatoes, but I'll eat those right off the vine.

    Michael: Well, I hope so. It's hard to see it when you have months with absolutely no sales.

  23. Here in Canada, we're still waiting for the frost to leave the ground. J/K our tomatoes started producing a couple of weeks ago. I missed the squash window - started seedlings but didn't get the plants in the ground. The lone zucchini has gone crazy. Looking forward to seeing what it'll do. Lots of raspberries this year too. I guess it's been a good year?!

  24. p.s. never too late for your writing career. I have to believe that 'cos I'm old.

  25. Elizabeth: Well, I'll agree with you, then.

  26. You'll get there Andrew, just like your garden. Next week you'll be complaining it too much to harvest :)

  27. We usually put the pumpkins on a board so I do recommend that option. I like to rotate them a little every few days to prevent flat spots.

  28. Donna: We certainly had too many tomatoes last year. I couldn't keep up with them. I don't think I'll have that problem this year, though.

    Jean: Well, these are "for eating" pumpkins, so I'm not worried about flat spots. I do need to get some boards, though.