Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: Gardening 101
By Betty Castleberry
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Anxious to get started, I headed out to the back yard, armed for an afternoon of planting. I was a bit green to gardening, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. However, I had done my research, and was sure I could come up with a bumper crop of lasagna suitable veggies. Rubbing my hands together in anticipation, I ran my garden trowel through the prepared soil and made a line about an inch wide. Perfect! I had just made my first row ready for planting. Continuing on in this manner, I soon had several rows made, had dropped the seeds in, and carefully covered them back up. After giving them a gentle soaking, I carried my garden tools back into the house and began The Wait.
I had visions of the beautiful, lush garden that was going to appear in my yard. It wasn’t inconceivable that the newspaper would come out to interview me. It would be a great human interest story. The headlines would read “First Time Gardener Grows Gargantuan Garlic.”
It became a daily ritual for me to check my little garden to see if anything had appeared from the soil yet. Finally, a couple of seedlings emerged. Before long, I had several small plants to tend. Day by day, though, I began to notice that the seedlings did not looking healthy. A few of them even died. The ones that were left were spindly and had no fruit. We were in the middle of one of the worst droughts in our history, and it was hot, very hot. Surely this was the reason my garden was dying.
At this point, I had pretty much given up on the idea of being interviewed by the newspaper. However, I wasn’t ready to give up entirely on my gardening experiment.
One morning, I went outside to water my pitiful plot, and something a few feet away caught my attention. I had become discouraged and had let a patch of knee high weeds flourish near the fence. In the midst of these weeds was a vine of some sort. On closer inspection, I saw that it looked suspiciously like some sort of melon vine. Yes! It was a melon vine, and it had blooms and even a tiny melon on it.
As the days went by, I watched the vine with interest, wondering how it got there. Maybe someone had spit out a few watermelon seeds at a back yard picnic. No matter, the fact was, it was there, and it was *thriving*. I did not plant it intentionally. I did not fertilize it or water it. It just appeared, and it grew. We ended up getting three sweet melons from this rebel vine. When I cleared away the weeds that fall, I saw that the run off from my garden had formed a rivulet that led directly to the weed patch. The weeds were sitting in a tiny make shift valley, and the soil was rich with washed away compost and fertilizer.
Even though my garden was an experiment in disappointment, the overall outcome was not. My garden location had been carefully chosen, but it did not produce much. Instead, a low place full of weeds gave me sweet, ripe fruit.
Often in life, the valleys, even though much aligned, are where the soil is fertile, and where we grow and learn. Next year I’m going to plant a spaghetti garden in the place where the weed patch was. I can tell you from personal experience that higher ground is not always best.
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