grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Sunday, February 12, 2012

On Losing Passion. On Quitting. On Going Through the Motions

It's been nearly two months since my last post here. I've composed a lot of posts in my head but nothing makes it out of there. It's part laziness but some of it is the subject matter. Topics I'm passionate about like the short-lived partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and Scotts/Miracle Grow or the unfair public albeit sneaky attacks on a good friend in a new garden publication and then the promotion of said publication by other writers has been hard for me to digest. Writing about these things takes so much energy. Even though it usually helps me work through all the negative emotions around it, the process is a painful one and something I haven't been up for. Friends have lost lovers, modest farmers are trying their best to fight against a corporation big enough to buy us all, big enough to weasel their way into the government. I find it all incredibly depressing and when so many of these things are crammed into such a short span of time it starts to make the world seem real hopeless.

I'm mad at myself for giving up like this. I wish I could just write about the state of my garden every day, no matter what condition it's in. It seems so simple but I'm seeing it all through the filter of these bad things. I'd like to be like Nigel Slater who wrote about cooking each day for a year. It wasn't always fancy but he did it.  There had to be times he was struggling. Days when he'd lost his passion, but somehow he and most of the rest of the world fight through it rather than crumbling beneath it all. There has to be a way to break this cycle. I'm sure you get sick of reading about it, and I get sick of experiencing it.

For the second year in a row my garden sits littered with last year's dead plants because I didn't take the time to clear it out at the end of the growing season. Every container on my patio is still there. Dead, frozen remnants of some kind of pepper whose name I cannot recall have fallen onto the patio.

Last year my garden was in the same shape around April when I took a road trip with some friends to Milwaukee to meet Gayla Trail. When she said in her lecture that leaving the dead plant material can actually help enrich the soil it was all I needed for the self-loathing to lift enough for me to get out there and get to work. I'm looking for that kind of inspiration right now.

Today I cleaned out my seed starting room in the basement. Somehow every year by this time that room looks just as bad as my dead garden does. I spent two hours vacuuming up spiders, spider webs, dirt, throwing away trash and putting things back in their place. The seed growing lights are still working. I'm thankful for that. And yesterday some seeds I'd ordered arrived in the mail. I can't say I'm excited about gardening right now. I'm just going through the motions and hoping the passion creeps back in sometime soon.


  1. I think I'd get rid of the water jugs, add a couple of houseplants, paint the whole thing a fun color, put a chair and a rug down there, and maybe a heater if it's chilly, and plan to spend time watching my seedlings.

  2. Gina, it's frustrating seeing what goes on in the world...but I look at my garden as a "*bleep* THE MAN"
    (corporations!) project. The more I grow, the less of their "junk" I have to eat. It always puts me in a good mood.

  3. We've all been there. Sometimes the challenges are greater than other times. The important thing is that you keep getting back up, plugging away, and making something happen. When those seedlings have sprouted into peppers or whatever it is that you're growing, you'll be taken away with excitement and everything will seem easy again. For a while, anyway. That's what makes this all worth doing.

  4. I can relate Gina. At the same time, I agree with Sue. Even though I buy almost exclusively organic veggies and herbs, and most of them are locally-grown, for me, growing food is ethically, environmentally, and politically important enough to suck it up and keep on keeping on. Once I get going in the spring, I get into it again. Once I start enjoying the fruits (and vegetables :) of my labor, it feels, and tastes very worthwhile.

    On the blog, I definitely spend less time on it than I did the first couple of years. I still enjoy it, and post when I feel like it, giving it a rest whenever I want to. And there are definitely times when I wonder how long I'll keep at it.

  5. I can relate Gina. This time of year the urge is to read a book under a blanket on the couch, not start the whole, often discouraging process of a garden again. I have to remind myself that when the world is looking bleak, it is that silly toad hanging under the chard I started a few months earlier that makes me smile. Don't overwhelm yourself with volume, do the bits that you love and give yourself a break from the rest.


  6. Nice job! The article is indeed a very informative one! I really enjoyed reading your blog so I look forward for more post from you.

  7. I have been a "secret voyer" of your gardening blog for about a year now. I love seeing you tranform your yard and your space over time. I hope you don't give up that part of your blogging. It is very inspirational!

  8. Do you want me to organize an occupy myskinny garden event to help you get the garden in shape?

  9. Gina, I have been there, too. Some seasons you just don't have the mental energy for it. Events and challenges can wear you down. But invariably, you spring back up (ooh, bad pun) when you are ready to do so. The year I was mourning some losses I allowed myself to slack off gardening. That's fine to give yourself a break. But when I got back to it I realized how disconnected I was from my garden and how much I missed it. It was fun and therapeutic again. Each year since then has been a little bit better. So you too may well have a surge of excitement and energy when the time comes. Everything, and certainly nature, is cyclical. So ride it out and take care of yourself. Thanks for your honesty.