A blog post by Mary Moscarello. Photos by Mary Moscarello.

Mid July garden growth

In mid-July I snapped this photo fully intending to express gratitude and maybe humble brag a little about the new fencing we’d put around my li’l patch o’heaven – AKA, my backyard garden… but something (Lord knows what) distracted me in the days following. 

This picture was taken less than a month after Bongo died. Before that, we hadn’t needed a fence around the garden – the “peemail” Bongo left around the perimeter of our property was enough to keep critters at bay. Yet, after Bongo died, our garden came under attack. We have a groundhog living near our house. He has been sighted enough times that my daughter named him Frank. Turns out Frank LOVES collard greens. 

Without the threat of a dog nearby, Frank got brave. And he got bold. He made multiple trips to the garden soon after he learned that the dog was no longer a factor and helped himself several times – decimating my greens, my lettuces, and even eating some of the tomato plants.  

As an animal lover – I’m not about to advocate hurting Frank, but I admit I wanted to hurt him. But rather than abandon all my principles and morals regarding the treatment of other sentient creatures, I petitioned the handy members of my household to help me refrain from violence and put up a fence. It doesn’t keep out the squirrels, which are also emboldened to get their snack on… but it has deterred Frank enough to where my collards are making a comeback.

An anti-Frank fortress?

I am what you would call a lazy gardener. I weed infrequently and usually when I can’t ignore it any longer. This year, I didn’t even do the planting, my daughter did, how’s that for lazy?

Pre-fence install proof I do weed the garden

When I do weed the garden, I usually listen to music or an audio book or a podcast. I don’t recall what I’d chosen to listen to during my most recent weeding session – but what I do remember is the feeling of comfort I got, kneeling in the soft earth. There was also the sense of satisfaction I got from removing the weeds from that soft earth – leaving the soil free to grow the things we’d planted there.

As I worked in the garden, it occurred to me that gardening, like life, asks us to do the work of weeding out the unwanted, to support healthy growth. Ignore the weeds at your garden’s peril. How much is this like our day to day? Ignore the weeds of negativity or stress or anger in your psyche at your well-being’s peril.

A little consistency in weeding the actual garden of life goes a long way. Plants thrive and produce. The same can be said for the metaphorical garden of life. When you pluck out the seeds of discontent, you might come away dirtier than you went in. But thank goodness that skin is washable and so is the soul. Dirt that travels with those “weedy” influences and inhibitors to a productive life can be removed. Consistent tending to the garden or the soul helps both to thrive and produce. I guess what I’m trying to say is, do the work. Do the weeding. Get a little dirt under your nails – it won’t hurt, it most likely will help.