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GARDENING THE HEART: Sundays With Sharon

Growing a novel is like working the garden. Fertile soil yields all the nutrients needed to feed a good story, with room for twists and subplots. No matter how fast I wish it to go, each story takes as long as it takes to develop, for the roots to grow and take hold. Very much like putting young plants out when they are leggy from their careful start, into the unforgiving real world of the garden. There is a pause, a few days or perhaps a week or two, and then the new shoots come, as the plant matures and begins to thrive. It grows organically, out of the ICU and into the regular population.

Gardening teaches me patience. Sometimes working on stories is like trying on clothes in a cramped dressing room, other times it's like a time travel to a different time and space. My characters are somewhat a mystery to me as they reveal themselves, even though I've thought out in advance what I want them to be. They stray….or as was said so well, life finds a way.



I used to love watching my baby chicks hatch. The eggs were blue and green, pink and violet. I usually chose the colored ones to let the hens hatch, but the outside of the shell didn't always determine what color or breed of chick would be contained inside. It was always a surprise to see what nature decided should be born into that egg, and then to watch it grow. I had usually three or four roosters so the cross-breeding was fun with some spectacular results.

This year I did the no-no of planting all my corn, all three varieties (two yellow sweet and one ruby red sweet) together. I've been told this isn't wise, but I decided to test those rules. Will I have half red and half yellow corn? Yellow corn with red sprinkles? Or red corn with yellow dots? I'll let you know.

My potatoes are up. My peas are beginning to vine and climb up the fence, as are my early beans. I've clipped off the first fruits of my squashes, and the heads of snapdragons so the plant will be bushier and yield more fruit, more flowers later on. Sacrifice some for later bounty. Work to weed for the blessings that come from the garden health. Add the ladybugs and praying mantis and let them multiply. My eggplant hasn't grown a bit, telling me I was too early with it. A couple of my tomatoes are like that too. The lettuce loves this early summer, as does the dinosaur kale, cabbage and onions. My dogs have caught several moles but we have a huge gopher in the rear yard they cannot get to. I keep forcing onion bulbs down his hole and he keeps shoving them out. I'm hoping he'll tire of the game and move on somewhere else before he discovers my corn, and especially my potatoes.

My collage True Love Heals in the Gardens of the Heart

Like a quilt, or tapestry, the different varieties of the garden grow at different speeds, just like my characters and my stories. When it takes shape and gets polished, which is where I'm at today, it starts to get very exciting. But there's always the element of wonder, even to myself as the writer, what will happen.

Just like gardening, it is work, but it also is a calling.

What do you learn from the garden?

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments
Judy - May 15, 2016

The weather heated too quickly this year, and I lost my blackberries. They look beautiful and are juicy, but they have a tart nasty aftertaste due to still being green, despite their gorgeous color. By the time they ripen, the sun will have baked them into raisins, of sorts; actually, they'll never achieve the sweetness expected. This happens every couple of years. I'll trim back the bushes in October (they're too tall to reach the ones on top and in the back) and hope for a healthy, if small, crop next year. Never give up. It definitely isn't about quantity but quality.

Reply
    Sharon Hamilton - May 15, 2016

    That's interesting, Judy. We have rains that sometimes come during blossom time for many fruit trees, especially our apricots. One good thing about blackberries is they are nearly impossible to kill! So, you'll always have a next year. Working in the garden does indeed require patience!

    Reply
    Judy - May 15, 2016

    Gardening is a bit like writing, isn't it? Put in all the work and maybe or maybe not see a return, as the return depends on readers like the garden depends on the sun and rain. 🙂

    Reply
    Sharon Hamilton - May 16, 2016

    Well put. Exactly like writing. Fishing too!

    Reply
julie beasley - May 15, 2016

Ladies enjoy your gardens. I can't stand gardening, hate the grass cutting. I do like my indoor plants though, specially my mini catus

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seelk - May 16, 2016

I miss my garden. Prior to that I never had one, but I found that even the most hairbrained ideas sometimes work and was so proud when something actually grew. I learned that while working in it my mind quieted for those few hours, it was my zen. My heart was blooming along with it seeing everything grow and cried when something attacked it.

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    Sharon Hamilton - May 16, 2016

    I can totally relate to this, Eni. I hate to kill anything but I have been known to get ruthless with slugs, snails and earwigs. We have so many birds (no cats because of our dogs), my pest problem is down from previous years. And the Ladybugs and mantis really take care of the aphids.

    The rest, well, it's trial and error.

    And yes, my heart blooms in the garden too. Like quilting, great stories come, a very zen time for me too!

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Karen Henderson - May 16, 2016

My husband does the majority of our garden work so I call it his garden but it's really ours. We expanded it again this year and changed stuff around so it will get the rotation it needs. Glad hubby was home this weekend while I was in Nashville cause we got frost and could have lost some stuff if he hadn't covered them up. Normally we do not get frost this late in May. We tried a few new things this year and one he has already pulled and replanted with something else as it wasn't thriving and we were really sure what to do with if it grew anyways. So he planted another roll of green beans in it's place which is awesome as we can them. I may actually go out tomorrow and pick and can kale as today I'm resting up from the weekend so canning is not happening. Love that we still have plenty of last years stuff canned to last us until this year's is ready. oh and we are adding me a strawberry garden this year too. Super excited about this

Reply
    Sharon Hamilton - May 16, 2016

    Strawberries are so wonderful to grow. How nice! Be sure to pinch off more than one "feeder" or you'll get a big crop of green plants but not as many strawberries! I learned the hard way. Course, you can take those "feeders" and plant them separately elsewhere to expand the field. But don't leave them attached to the plant will go into fruit production…A little gardening tip of the day! Yay on the green beans. Nothing better with butter. I could eat a whole dinnr just with beans and butter.

    Reply

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