The Accidental Garden

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, preparing to go on a working vacation . . . 

Hey, Wicked People. Has a month gone by already? That means that in just a few days I’ll be leaving on a 5-day tour of Ohio’s Amish country. Even thought it’s technically a work trip, I’m really looking forward to it! In October’s post I’ll give you all the details.

A pumpkin of any size, even this little guy, makes me happy!

So if you’ve ever been to Amish country, or can imagine a bit of what it’s like, one thing you might think of is carefully tended gardens. And you would be right. I grew up in an area of New York State where there is a rapidly growing Amish population, and I visit family there frequently. I’ve gone to Amish country in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and I’ve never seen an overgrown, out-of-control vegetable patch on an Amish farm. Ever.

The same cannot be said for my own backyard. It’s been a few years since we’ve grown any kind of significant produce (now we rely on local farm stands or our generous neighbors to bless us with their excess). But the old garden where we used to grow giant pumpkins as a family endeavor (largest: 475 pounds–which is a baby in the giant pumpkin world yet pretty darn big when you try to move it to display it at the fairgrounds) is still there in an unused area of the yard. We’ve never seeded it over with grass, even though it’s probably long past time to do that. But memories are harder to kill than violets and dandelions, and we let the garden stay, even though it now boasts an impressive crop of weeds. It’s also home to my makeshift compost pile, where I often throw vegetable scraps. (You can’t see the stuff under all the weeds, and it eventually decays, even without turning it)

Ripen, willya?

I don’t specifically recall throwing last year’s jack-o-lantern seeds or carcass out into the garden, but I must have. I do have a vague memory of tossing out the seeds of a spaghetti squash this past spring. Lo and behold, about six or eight weeks ago vines started growing and flowering, all of a sudden it seemed, out of the old garden. Half a dozen small pumpkins set, as well as about the same number of spaghetti squash. The pumpkins are doing fine, beginning to turn orange. And I’m cautiously optimistic the spaghetti squash will turn a golden yellow and be ready to harvest. (I hope so, because I now have a serious hankering for Italian sausage, green and red peppers, and onions cooked together and served over one of those spaghetti squash…)

Life is kind of like my garden, isn’t it? Sometimes you make plans, till the soil, plant seeds in an orderly fashion, tend the young plants, and things grow the way they’re supposed to, giving you a predictable harvest. And sometimes you have to just toss stuff out there and see what happens. Maybe you’ll get nothing. Or maybe you’ll get a surprise crop that will bring you unexpected joy.

When was the last time you threw caution to the wind? Did something spontaneous? Or do you need to plan  to do something spontaneous?

22 Thoughts

  1. I love accidental gardens, Jane. This year my back perennial garden was full of sunflowers, all volunteers! They were gorgeous, although when I get home from my trip they’re going to need some serious cleanup. I don’t do spontaneous as well as those sunflowers and I think it would be good for me to leave myself more open to it. Have a fun trip!

  2. I always love your posts. Are you planning to write an Amish cozy series next? I like to be spontaneous…as long as I have a little time to plan for it. 😬 Have a great trip!

    1. Aw, thanks, Korina! I will not be writing an Amish cozy, alas. It would be a conflict of interest with my day job. But I love to read them. I like Linda Castillo’s Amish thriller series and Laura Bradford’s cozy series too.

  3. We too use to have large gardens. Loved the harvest, but lots of work. Gardens require lots of attention and don’t do well with neglect. Since we moved (and since we live in Stone County you can imagine the type soil we have here) and want to travel more, we haven’t had a garden and frequent the farmer’s market. Still nothing like from garden to table in one day and knowing how it was grown, but we adjusted as we do with all things in life. Always loved the volunteers. Makes you feel like your work deserved you a little bonus.

    I think as we get older we are more prone to acts of spontaneity. Think ours started when after saying we were rooted and never moving that we did a complete 180 sold our home and moved to the opposite end of the state where we had always loved to travel too. Folks that knew me were stunned and for months in the process thought I was joking but here we are.

    Use to be very organized and details planned out. Now, we may have things planned out but if someone or something comes along we can change those plans at the drop of a hat. It’s kind of like the saying “why put off what you can do today” literally. Why wait to take that trip to Yellowstone – go. Why wait to take that trike ride – it’s a pretty day GO.

    Some say the 60’s were good – and they were. However, I think being in your 60’s and retired is GREAT! Spontaneous is now my new middle name. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. And sometimes you have the best laid plans for the garden, but it doesn’t go the way you expect and you have to improvise. 🙂

    I am ashamed to say I can’t remember the last time I threw caution to the winds. I must be getting stodgy in my old age (or having kids hampered the whole “improve” thing).

    1. Yes, it was pretty wonderful. Now I’ll have a nice display for my front steps as well as a base for dinner several nights this fall. And you can be safely unspontaneous here, Marla. We love our readers just as they are!

  5. We decided to go to Indiana for the Red Bull Air Race next weekend (we live in VA), but I still had to ask at work several weeks ago, so that I could get the time off.
    Hopefully when we retire, we can be more spontaneous!!
    Love the fall goodies you found. My garden has gone away for the year except for the yucky hot peppers that refuse to quit growing.

  6. So funny this post is today. I am so not spontaneous, and even though we’re retired, my husband and I have calendar-syncing/planning meetings that go out for months. However, we did decide to go away last weekend on Thursday. The caveat is, it was a visit we were planning to make mid-week this week, but our friends wanted to take us out on their boat and the weekend forecast was better. So we up and did it. However, it was so unusual, both for us and our friends, that we couldn’t stop talking about how weird it was.

  7. I am so tied up with my calendar and all my commitments! I am now retired and my calendar is still my only way to get to where I need to be when I need to be there. Spontaneity? It happens, thank goodness, but not as often as it probably should. I have the word NO! on a sticky note on my computer to remind not to volunteer for anything else this year! OR to be volunteered!

    1. Oh, Doris, you and me too. I recently “retired” from a several year volunteer commitment, but I still can’t quite get away. I know where I get it, though. My mom is in her mid-70s and is still working and volunteering for, like, everything. I hope it keeps you young and engaged. When it becomes a burden is the time to stop.

  8. Like many others who are retired, I have a full calendar most of the time. However, my nature is to be spontaneous, so I’m always willing to cancel things and just take off. Life’s more fun that way. 😁

  9. I was fairly spontaneous in picking a bright color for a wall in our house, lol. That’s about as spontaneous as I get I guess. Susannah, are you planning another Tangled Web mystery for next year? I just read the first two and loved them, so hoping for more in the series!

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