Thursday, September 5, 2013



This has been a bit of an odd summer here at Mucky Boots, at least for me. A taking stock kind of summer. I've been taking a close look, in as gentle a way as I can, at what I can realistically commit to on the garden front, given that my arthritis seems to be a more constant presence in my life. It's not only a question of  what I think I can do, but what I want to do. What am I good at growing? How much can we reasonably expect to eat? How can I cut back or adapt what I do to make it a joy instead of a constant game of catch-up?

Part of what's needed is a change in expectations, and I am happy to announce that I think, finally, I have graduated from the Remedial School for Perfectionist Gardeners. My garden hasn't been perfect for most of the year (so what else is new...) and I've been fine with that. Really.

After four growing seasons here, Kim and I are also taking a hard look at what's working and what's not, what we're good at and what we probably need to give up on. And first on that list, for both of us, is fruit.

We're pretty good at berries: strawberries, raspberries and especially blueberries. But we suck at growing tree fruit. We had big plans for our orchard, and added a number of trees when we first got here, but we have learned that growing fruit organically is tough: there's a disease and a pest for every season and every kind of fruit tree, and I think we've encountered them all. Throw in the demise of the grand dame of the orchard, our Pink Lady apple tree, and we're ready to throw in the towel. So we decided this summer that we would take out a few of the trees that are either dead or on their last legs and transition into more blueberries.

And then Mother Nature gave us this gift: plums.

We planted the Italian plum tree in the vegetable garden a couple of years ago. Last year it had one blossom. This year it had more, many of which transformed into fruit. And this afternoon, while seeing to the chickens, a lovely purplish-blue hue caught my eye and I realized the plums were ripe and ready to be picked. Not too many - about three pounds, I would guess. But they're everything a plum should be, the essence of plummy goodness.

All of which adds to my conviction that to be a Happy Gardener you should hope for the best, accept that this year's garden will be different from last year's, marvel in the miracles that present themselves every day, forgive yourself for the things that don't work, and be grateful for the gifts Mother Nature bestows.

Like a handful of plums.


Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

Yes. The never ending math equation of what can I do + what should I do - any sort of body pain = how the garden really looks.

I'm with ya'.

And plums are a wonderful little treat, aren't they! I've put some up this year but the majority I just snack on. And feed to the kid and the chickens and quail, who love them.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

What a gifted gardener to be able to envision and embrace the changes your garden needs.

Enjoy those plums!!! :-)

Stephanie said...

That is a nice old chair that the fruit and bowl is sitting on. Nice image!

Shim Farm said...

Those little Italian plums are the best. Fresh out of the garden to boot, it doesn't get much better than that!

I hear your pain, though. It's tough taking stuff out. We've had our fair share of that on our farm. I've overcome my guilt and my sentimentality. I'm now a happy ripper-outer.

That said and done, I was excited to find a cherry tree with actual sour cherries that was undiscovered even by the birds this summer. As for the cherry tree in our front yard - picked clean, like every year. Same for the elderberries. One rogue gaggle of grackles, and the berries were annihilated in a day.

I've learned to keep my expectations low, and be excited by every success.

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