Jul 222010


My garden never fails me.

For the past couple of weeks, my output at work seems to consist only of bumps, detours, technical failures, a growing to-do pile and a number of opportunities to really embarrass myself. (You may have noticed the lack of blog posts…. or the unfinished ones that I must of scheduled to ‘publish’ instead of ‘save.) You get the point: not at my best.

I don’t believe in writer’s block but I really don’t like to write when I’m out of sorts. I owe you better. So I gave up and went out to my garden.

I was rewarded with a colander full of luscious, thumb-nail sized blueberries, still warm from the sun. There are so many that the branches are bent.

As I picked off and discarded the dozens that the birds had nibbled, I smiled, thinking back on last month’s “strawberry wars.” Our strawberry bed is just a year old. Per instructions from the landscaping expert, three dozen tender plants were protected with ‘cages’ and surrounded by mulch and covered with a fine mesh net. Strong-smelling soap and moth balls completed the barricade.

Want to guess how many strawberries I harvested? If I said “10” I would be exaggerating. Not ten boxes — ten berries. The chipmunks and the red squirrels got the rest.

A garden or a farm can teach kids all sorts of wonderful things: teamwork, discipline, hard work… There’s the satisfaction that comes when they (literally) harvest the fruits of their labor… and, of course, giving.

Generally, when I think about using the garden to teach our kids to give, I think in terms of sharing the harvest with family, friends and neighbors. The “bountiful blueberries and the stolen strawberries” provided me with another thought, one that will solve my strawberry problem.

I’m going to plant more strawberries — and let the critters have them. That’s right: add more plants and subtract the cages, mesh and other deterrents. Let ’em eat their fill. Don’t worry about protecting the berries. Give up. Give ’em away.

If this approach works in the garden like it does everywhere else in life we’ll have more berries than we can handle. And,if not, it won’t matter — I’ve decided that the sane choice is to enjoy feeding them!

  18 Responses to “Bountiful Blueberries and Stolen Strawberries”

  1. Andrea – I love your garden insight! Absolutely! Plant more berries…and you shall reap what you sow! Happy Harvesting! <3

  2. I love this post Andrea. It reminds me to snuggle into the simple pleasures when I find life challenging and writing almost impossible. And most importantly a great way to teach our children teamwork discipline and most of all…letting go hugs Andrea

    • Thank you. And I’m going to keep the expression “snuggle into the simple pleasures” because it’s wonderful.

  3. Non-resistance and acceptance is always key to sharing. Growing up on ranches and farms, you learn to let nature share the bounty…just like we should in life. We are all on this journey together. Cheers on your gardening Andrea! It’s those darn tomato worms and white moths that challenge us!

    • When I’m uncomfortable, non-resistance and acceptance are good places to look! I feel fortunate to have found an active permaculture community in our new surroundings. As I learn what will and will not grow here, I keep learning about new critters to eat the produce… and other bugs to eat them. The circle of life….

  4. What a wonderful story 🙂 Wow! Yay! For the critters. Yes, share the love. Planting with love will bring you a harvest bountiful. Planting in fear whill bring you a harvest of scarcity. Universal laws and magic right in your garden, Andrea. How wonderful that you listened to what your garden was teaching you.

  5. I love the story and how you have used it as an analogy for what’s happening in your life. We go to Nova Scotia most summers and the highlight for my kids is picking the low bush blueberries that grow there. So tasty! I also love how the reminder to just give away our abundance means that so much more will flow back to us. Beautiful story and best of luck with your writing bumps!

  6. Love this post! We have had chickens for about six or seven years now because I wanted my children to experience what it was like to put you hand under a sitting hen and pull out the warm egg. It was their responsibility to take care of them and keep the hen house clean. Now my twin sons are in college and we only have one hen left. The lessons learned. Memories made. Will we invest in more hens in the future? Probably not. Will I miss them? You bet!

    • For me it’s an important reminder — sometimes it’s more “about” the experience than the “product.” Thanks for taking the time to connect. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  7. I loved this, in fact I was smiling as I read it. I just came in from my garden and I can see that it will be soon time to eat some fresh peas. I have been eating fresh strawberries from my little patch and it has been a total delight. As far as trying to gather it all, I have learned a long time ago that unlike picking up stuff in a store, growing your own is all a matter of sharing it with nature.

    • I’m with you, Mary… I just wish that sometimes ‘nature’ preferred the excess zucchini to the scarce strawberries. 😉

  8. I love this, Andrea. A generosity heart is rewarded even more generously. If only we would all embrace your wonderful approach to living and sharing, You are a beautiful bright spirit. And i am grateful for the kindness and the gentle energy you bring to this world. namaste.

  9. Great way of looking at it. Made me miss my California Garden. Like you when I can’t write I would love to get out in the garden. In Texas, it is a little too hot. 🙁 Enjoy the blueberries. Thanks for a great post.

    • Thanks Ralene. Since publishing this we have moved to FL so I am learning about gardening and permaculture in a radically different climate… and the first set of blueberry bushes are already in.

  10. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Melissa H. Dery, Beth Kohlhoff. Beth Kohlhoff said: Check out this post by @andreapatten http://bit.ly/b8pYRr thoughtful and helpful as always […]

  11. Thanks, Tinky. And, it is thanks to your rhubarb discussions that I learned that I should place at least one of them near the strawberry beds. Yum.

  12. This is darling, Andrea. It’s true: we all need to laugh and share as well as eat in the garden. And you’ve just reminded me to take my nephew Michael berry picking today. My raspberries have gone more or less the way of your strawberries (the birds have really enjoyed them), but my more organized (or fiercer) neighbor is away and asked me to pick at his house while he’s gone….

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