Monday, June 18, 2012

Persistence, Diligence and the Willingness to Fight

"Persistence, Diligence and the Willingness to Fight"

A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself. ~May Sarton

When it comes to vegetable gardening, these last few weeks have had me questioning my sanity. I probably have verbally proclaimed that I wanted to quit vegetable gardening at least two times during this past week alone. I am not a quitter, and I never have been. This week has been a test of my patience to say the least. I have also been trying to win this battle of the pests organically and without the use of chemical pesticides.

Squash vine borers, cucumber worms, mold, fungus, and whatever else is out there testing my wits as a gardener, have all presented endless opportunities to problem solve the mysterious consumption and sudden death of my vegetables. Not to mention the occasional raccoon or cat that enjoys trampling through my new elevated beds as well. The yard is a fairly good size suburban lot, so the attraction of these critters to my containers keeps me feeling somewhat perplexed.

At night I can peacefully enjoy the beauty of my garden, and wake up the next morning to a completely different scene as I observe a garden in chaos. “How and why is this happening?” are often my first thoughts as I sip my morning coffee. “Why am I doing this?” is often my next thought!

I look at my garden as a challenge sometimes, actually, more like, all of the time. The same way that I look at life and every other issue that comes before me that needs a resolution. I am my own boss in and out of the garden, although, sometimes it certainly does not feel that way.

In my gardens, this is not simply the case with just my vegetables. The other day, I noticed that one of my hydrangeas was comparatively about a quarter of the size of the other four shrubs around it. The vinca on one side of my driveway is being consumed, whereas the rest of it in my other gardens is doing fine. Two of my Knock-out Roses have died.

I know of others who constantly deal with rabbits and deer. There is always something going on in the garden. Good bugs and bad bugs, smelly fungus, drought, too much rain, wind, salt, overcrowding, disease and death to name a few. No matter how diligent and persistent that you are with your care, something will sneak into your garden and eat your zucchini!

I went through a wonderful program offered by our state’s Master Gardener’s Extension office this past winter. I don’t know all of the answers to garden problems personally, but I do know that in almost every state they are an excellent resource for information. I jokingly tell my gardening friends that the only difference between a Gardener and a Master Gardener (MG), is that the MG generally knows when they are making a mistake.

Education is the key to knowing how to possibly avoid and prevent mistakes in the garden. It is often important to know how to resolve an issue when it comes before you. Sometimes though, you may be too late. It happens to even the best of gardeners.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending the day in a large gymnasium with over 100 twenty plus year olds. I honestly had forgotten how much energy and enthusiasm that this age group possesses in large numbers. It was a fundraiser for an organization that encourages individuals with disabilities to become active in sports and within their community. Wheelchair sports are often the first step an individual with a disability takes to become reintegrated into their community.

The fundraiser was held by the 2013 Class of Doctorate in Physical Therapy students from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The fundraiser was held for a local non-profit organization called Achieving Wheelchair Equality (AWE). This event was one of the best run and organized fundraisers that I have ever attended. (I just wish that I had known that Krispy Kreme doughnuts were outside.)

I was asked to have a table on Access to the Garden, and this was a first for me to publicly demonstrate tools and answer questions regarding how I garden as a person with a Spinal Cord Injury who uses a wheelchair. It was an excellent opportunity to expose numerous therapists to the idea that gardening does not need to stop because of a disability. Several consumers with disabilities were enlightened as well to the possibility of gardening again to enjoy the benefits of it as therapy and exercise.

I also used my appeal to gardening as a means to maybe promote healthy eating. I say “maybe” because a lot of people from the South enjoy frying everything, and I personally enjoy eating fried everything as well! Except one gentleman did tell me that he enjoyed frying the flowers from squash plants, and I wasn’t exactly too keen to that idea. The numerous thoughtful questions and enthusiastic energy from the participants was definitely worth getting up early on a Saturday morning!

Although I may use a wheelchair, my focus with Access to the Garden pertains to the opportunity for gardening for all. My Facebook page, Access to the Garden focuses on my many gardening interests, and daily challenges within the garden. I have enjoyed sharing many inspirational thoughts, beautiful flower/vegetable images from myself and others, gardening advice, and many great container ideas.

As a gardener I will share anything that strikes me as clever or anything that I find to be just simply good advice. My persistence, diligence and willingness to fight have saved me in and out of the garden! I don’t fight in the physical sense, but I do stand up for what I believe in. Empowering others and educational awareness are incredibly important. Knowing how to battle disease and pests in the garden are too! Frustration is a normal part of problem solving. One must remain diligent and not throw in the trowel to enjoy the many benefits of gardening! Next, I should anticipate the tomato horn worm! With them, I do become a little aggressive and sometimes quite physical.


  1. I've always enjoyed the little victories that come with growing a beautiful tomato or a towering sunflower-it sure puts all of the battles and defeats into their respective places!