Discover more from Love Off Grid
How to Stay Planted
And some Garden Updates
Grow where you’re planted.
That saying has always seemed very idealistic to me because it’s an attitude I want so badly to have, and yet don’t. At least not naturally.
As an INTJ (Meyers-Briggs type), it’s in my nature to look toward the dark side, to find holes in a plan, and to point out all the reasons things won’t work.
As you might imagine, I’m very popular.
I’ve heard that INTJ personalities are often cast as the villain in films - the scoundrel at odds with the optimistic hero. The dark and menacing cloud.
That type-cast, while understandable, is a pretty cartoonish depiction when you stop to examine the INTJ’s motives and, dare I say, heart-space.
I tend to listen to others’ plans in a very pragmatic way with the goal of helping them foresee any pitfalls and avoid them. When I hear a red flag, I speak up. I do this because I want them to succeed.
I’m pretty good at finding holes, honestly, and my dark foreshadowing has probably saved us a lot of time and money here on the farm. Even so, most people don’t receive this kind of feedback well so, over the years, I’ve learned remain silent until my opinions are requested.
It’s not easy.
John is used to my style by now so he allows me some latitude. He’s an ISTP (which is a very similar type), so he doesn’t take my critiques personally. Most of the time. Having a pragmatic viewpoint in common has probably saved us a lot of fights over the years.
But, like any “gift” taken to the extreme, light always turns to darkness.
My tendencies are effective when tangible actions are at play (like how we should build something), but I can go off the rails when I use my colorful imagination to foresee problems that have yet to exist, and may never.
I’m reminded of that Tom Petty song, Crawling Back to You…. Most things I worry about never happen anyway… maybe he was an INTJ, too.
My nature, as I’ve explained, is to lean toward doom instead of hope. Fear instead of faith. Pessimism instead of optimism. I can sympathize with the friends who listen to me rant. Honestly, sometimes I get tired of hearing myself think.
I think, What happens when we can’t get gas anymore to mow all the grass that attracts these grasshoppers? What happens if next year there isn’t as much water as there is this year? What happens if…? I plod down all the dark paths.
Meanwhile, John counters: Stop counting the shovels and dig the damn hole.
How very ISTP of him.
Although it can be harsh, it’s good for me to hear this. It gets me out of my head and gets me moving. Given more tact, he might just as well have said, Grow where you’re planted, but I understand his language. I know his intent.
I’ve been looking at the dark side here for several weeks as we’ve been inundated with our own personal plague of locusts. I’ll admit, I’ve been browsing Zillow again.
I had a kind reminder from a fellow writer, Carrie Triffet from Tales of a Half Wild Garden, encouraging me to stop seeing the grasshoppers as the enemy. A difficult challenge. Reading her words, I was reminded of another saying: When you walk around with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
While I endeavor to put the hammer down, regarding grasshoppers and so many other things, I’m going to tell you about all the wonderful things happening in my garden, and there are many.
Let’s focus on that together.
I started my seeds on April 6th, when the ground still had a lot of snow. I started them in seed trays and then transferred them to larger pots a few weeks later.
On May 1, we installed a drip irrigation system in the garden and also planted the potatoes. It was still getting too cold at night to plant much else outdoors.
The drip system has really helped save time with watering and it may be saving water as well, since I planted along the drip lines.
Mid-May, I planted lettuce, spinach, arugula, and radish seeds in one of the greenhouses. It was only a few weeks before I was harvesting enough greens for salads.
On May 19, I transferred my starters to the garden. I had bought some frost-cloth just in case the weather turned and I needed to cover them, but it stayed warm into June.
It was so warm that my basil was busting out - so much so, that I was making fresh pesto in early June. It was wonderful!
Last year, I tried growing broccoli and brussels sprouts in the garden to no avail. They grew but just didn’t produce much flower. The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, so to speak. This year, I planted them in the greenhouse from starters I had grown from seed. They also started growing like mad during that warm spell…
It’s late June and I already have a broccoli head! A good sign.
The cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, and carrots all took off during that warm spell…. but it was beginning to get a little too warm.
What to do?
I ordered a couple shades online to cover the greenhouses. The actual shades made for that purpose are pretty expensive so we improvised with some “privacy fencing cloth” which, I’m happy to report, works just fine.
John put some screws in the bottom of our greenhouse base as anchors and we wove twine through the tarp’s grommets, lacing around the screws kind of like you’d lace a shoe. A very big shoe.
Since it was inexpensive, we didn’t feel bad about cutting holes where the windows are to let in air. We just have to remember to put them on the same way next year so the holes line up!
As you can see, the plants are getting plenty of light but not too much heat. It’s working!
By the way, the shade is covering more of the south side intentionally (it’s not on crooked).
I should also mention that the greenhouse has small gaps where the polycarbonate sheets slide into the metal frame around the base. That’s part of the design. However, we filled these gaps with silicon when grasshoppers started sneaking through the cracks. So far, that’s keeping them out.
The garden is also doing well. As we learn what likes to grow here, we’re planting more purposefully while still experimenting with other things. We have a lot of butternut and spaghetti squash, four types of corn, and lots of potatoes and pumpkins. We know they do well. We’re also experimenting with fennel, zucchini, snap beans and loofah.
I have plans to put loofa in the soap bars I’ve been making. More on that later…
We also planted 45 garlic cloves last fall, just before the snow. Sadly, we only have 15 left because the other 35 were eaten by moles over the winter. When the snow melted, our property was full of mole tunnels!
I’m not sure how many moles live here, but they really get around under the snow.
And, speaking of snow… just a few days ago, after all that glorious warm weather, the temperature dropped dramatically. It went from the 80’s to a high of 50F.
Although it didn’t drop to freezing, it did get cold enough at night for some of our plants to suffer. Some of the squash leaves are black now.
Ironically, despite having frost cloth, I just didn’t believe it would get that cold so I didn’t cover my plants. Lesson learned. We’re using it now though, until the weather shifts again. Hopefully the plants will all recover. They were well established when it hit so maybe they’re healthy enough to survive a bit of damage.
Meanwhile, I harvested our first Black Beauty Zucchini yesterday and it was delicious! The cucumbers are blooming, as are some of the peppers and tomatoes. Good things are happening in every direction, and I’m purposefully noticing them.
The trees we planted last fall are thriving. Even the little Contender Peach tree that looked as if it had died sprouted a new shoot beside what had been the main plant.
That’s it, in front, contending.
I think maybe that little Contender Peach tree has a lesson for me…
Contend, defined, means to strive in opposition or against difficulties; to struggle. How much greater the lesson to remain sweet, like a peach?
I don’t think my personality was a great deal different when I was younger than it is now. Back then, though, I remember thinking that people who went around smiling all the time and being cheerful just hadn’t suffered enough.
In my mind, they were frivolous airheads.
Thankfully I’ve learned, over the years, that I was so wrong about that. So very wrong.
Now I realize that it takes major effort to be cheerful when things aren’t easy. You also have to care how your mood impacts others - especially when caring about that doesn’t come naturally.
I sincerely admire those who have really been through the wringer but come out the other side smiling anyway. Their smile might not have come immediately after their pain (that’d be weird), but it came all the same, as they found acceptance.
These folks don’t wear their scars on their sleeves and, most of the time, you’d never even know they carried scars at all. They’re impacted, sure, but they don’t adopt their pain as their identity. They don’t need everyone to know about it.
I love these kinds of people. They are the salt of the earth. They grow where they are planted.
And - bonus - they usually have a fantastic sense of humor, too.
I’m trying to be more like them and more like my Contender Peach tree - taking in the sun, the frost and the
damn grasshoppers and smiling, nonetheless.
I’m doing my best to stay rooted, stop browsing Zillow, and grow where I’m planted.