Stop Your Sobbing

How do you cope with the prospect of failure?  Not failure itself, that’s pretty easy. You cry, brush yourself off, move on.

But the likelihood of screwing up. Ah, that’s another thing.

I’m talking about my vegetable garden, which turns out to be both a success and a bomb.

My weeds! They have taken over. Excuses: Heat. Rain. Humidity. Social distractions. And I’ve got to work, after all.

I have tomatoes, so how can I whine? A rainbow of heirlooms.

mixed tomatoes

Basil bushes that could make topiary pesto.

Squash, huge, far too much too eat.


Does anyone actually like stuffed zucchini boats?

My herbs were are great before they crushed by toppling mint. The lavender and tarragon have exploded. Next to them, the pinks I planted as companions have bloomed constantly. My raspberry volunteers produced berries that accent vanilla ice cream perfectly.


And here’s the point. Everything is sprouting, bushy, overgrown. The weeds sprawl. But the plants I expected to do well – the pole beans, say, masses of vines and leaves – have produced no beans.


Some cuke plants have thrived, but others flatlined. Peppers, yes, eggplant, nada. Cosmos making a brave go of it.


The beautiful crinkled leaves of the rainbow chard? Gourmet rabbit lunches, long gone.

The journey is the goal. To quote Gil, quoting some Oriental sage.

Oh. So it was all about the planting of those wrinkly little potato sections in May, watching the green plants thrive in June, finally the digging of the hard red tubers out of the earth, greeting the earthworms that were their bosom companions. Getting the good dirt under my nails.

potatoes soil

Having a perfectly manicured kitchen garden where every crop prospers isn’t the point even if it was possible. I’ve had that experience, in the past, on a sunny slope with plenty of chicken manure and it was pretty great. But then I didn’t share a marsh with turtles and snakes and red-tailed hawks. I didn’t live in the shady, ethereal woods.

I could use a hand with the weeding. In the meantime, let’s listen as Jonathan Richman sings the Kinks’ Stop Your Sobbing.


Filed under Cooking, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Photography, Writing

5 responses to “Stop Your Sobbing

  1. Thanks for the encouragement. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow morning I might just get out there.

  2. Okay, let’s talk for a moment about mint and weeds.
    Weeds, by definition, are plants that are undesirable in a certain context. It has ever been thus.
    Eons ago tomatoes were considered poisonous and were pulled and discarded as weeds.
    Here in the Pacific Northwest, where mint was growing before Lewis and Clark were babies, we have more varieties than you can shake a stick at. In fact, we have a dog park (where the dogs can run around off leash to their heart’s content) that grows a fine crop of catnip, a variety of mint. Mints are abundant in the low areas near streams and rivers. Peppermint, spearmint, applemint, orange mint, catnip – and several varieties of bastard-mint which results when these other varieties live close together – can be found.
    Most of our vegetables today can trace their ancestry to, you guessed it, weeds.
    If you have plants growing where you don’t want them to and smothering the plants that you desire, you are going to have to spend at least 15 minutes a day with your hands in the dirt. Some of us, present company included, spend half an hour or more contemplating humus and bugs.
    A nice garden requires a nice commitment, every day.
    By the way, the growing season isn’t over. You can still yank weeds, shore up the plants you desire, and you might even get a pretty good crop. Those beans look like they are ready to burst into bloom, if someone would just remove some of their neighbors.
    Good luck!

  3. I know. And said this would be the summer of mint iced tea. I think I have to invite in the whole neighborhood to drink that tea. Every single day. And I don’t have any neighbors. Except for earthworms.

  4. Your garden kicks my garden’s butt. If I could take a picture and post it in these comments I totally would to underline my point. As there are technical restrictions, I will have to leave you to imagine the pathetic state of my tomatoes which were woefully overrun by over-achieving mint. I love mint, but how many mojitos can a girl make? Wait. Is that a silly question?


    I like a random sage, here and there… And cosmos too.

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