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Mood Cultivation

Garden Reports and Rejoicing – July 28

My husband and I have two vegetable gardens. Before we came to Poison Ivy Acres we rented a plot in a community garden because we didn’t have enough sun or space to grow veggies in our yard. Once we moved and had enough room for a large vegetable garden I was ready to give up the other plot. But my husband said “I’ve spent 14 years building up this soil…I’m not going to give it up.”

On the one hand the additional space gives us the option of growing more potatoes, paste tomatoes, zinnias, and those space-grabbing winter squash vines. On the other hand, there is always one more garden that needs tending and this can become a pressure not a pleasure. This is especially the case when crops that need frequent or special tending are grown there.

So when we arrived at the community garden on Saturday and saw that there were beans to harvest as well as the normal weeds to pull, I was immediately annoyed. For the past two years my husband has promised that he wouldn’t plant beans at this garden, and yet what did he do last spring? He planted more beans.

Green beans need harvesting every two or three days. Although we pickle them as dilly-beans we tend not to eat them frozen, so other than sticking some in soup, we don’t preserve them. Yes, we can give them away, but they still have to be harvested, thank you very much, and I have enough bean picking to do with the five rows that are in our own front yard.

You can already tell that this additional bean planting has me cranky, and that’s even before I tell you about the Mexican bean beetles. The community garden is infested with this pest for which there is no great organic solution. So harvesting the beans means squishing or knocking off the ugly, yellow larvae and settling for beans that are distorted and chewed. And then there is my fear that in harvesting beans from the community plot we’ll inadvertently bring this pest to our home garden.

And all of this could be avoided by not planting them at the community garden in the first place, which is what had me feeling pissed off and poisonous as we picked beans on Saturday. And the more I bent over pulling the hundreds of beans off the plants and squishing the mustard-yellow bean beetle larvae, the angrier I became.

Which of course made my husband upset because all he wanted was to use the land completely and have my help for an hour, so why was I so irritable? Which made me even more bad-tempered because he’d promised for two seasons that he wouldn’t plant beans here again so what was his problem? I was completely justified in my annoyance, I muttered to myself, but what does being right have to do with anything?

And at the same time my ornery mind was cycling all of this around and around, part of me was also able to realize that my annoyance wasn’t serving me at all. I was only dealing with three rows of beans, after all, not an entire field. And further more, I told myself, I was being a spoiled brat to be complaining about having too much food!

So I told my mind to just shut up and harvest. And soon the beans were harvested, we drove home where I took a shower and felt better.

Sometimes we need to just get the job done and get over it, and this approach might be all that’s needed to cultivate a better mood.

These are three of the four rows of beans we have planted at Poison Ivy Acres. More than enough for use to harvest and eat.

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