Teen-Aged Carrots and other confessions of a part-time home gardener, full-time rural advocate

(Aleksakarina / Adobe Stock)
Local writer of the column 'Notes From Home'

It’s Monday Monday as I write this, little more than a day before I’ll be standing in front of people sitting and eating lunch while they listen to my story about water in the Tulare Lake Basin. At this moment, my presentation isn’t quite finished, but I’m past the panic stage that always arrives just before the Light. So here’s a short progress report on my carrot garden and other notes from home.

Last week, around Wednesday, I looked up from my computer to see half of my carrot crop’s lacy green tops lying on their sides, looking helpless. I assumed I’d forgotten to water them again (a fair assumption, since many things go thirsty when I’m working this intently.) Water did not perk them up, so I pulled one of the carrots from a dense clump and found it seriously stunted, though tasty anyway. I have never learned to thin, i.e., selectively destroy part of the crop for the improvement of the rest. My pears suffer the same problem in heavy years.

So I was reminded of something I’ve known for a long time: farming takes knowledge as well as soil, water and time for seeds to sprout and mature into food. “Carrots are forgiving,” my citrus-grower friend Bob said, though I don’t think he’s planted carrots in at least four decades, if ever. It would help if I knew what needed forgiving and could correct my bad practice, thus to rescue my once-baby carrots.

Last week’s master gardener column had some helpful hints on geraniums, however. Reading it over dinner one night, long after sundown, I grabbed my flashlight and ran out to my geranium patch to discover that, actually, I have pelargoniums. That pleased me because I remembered hearing that name spoken by my favorite aunt, but never knew what flower it belonged to. I also discovered that something had devastated the pale pink ones, eaten them to shreds when just days before they had been perfect, pristine. At least now I can figure out what to do for them (after Tuesday.) A phone call or email to the master gardeners might produce a fix for my carrots as well. Thank you for your constant offerings, you dedicated disseminators of knowledge about our yard plants, for helping us take care of our little pieces of heaven.

I’ll make the same grateful shout-out to our Lindsay veterinarian, whose office has helped me rescue more cats than any sane person would want. My teen-aged Rocketman, whose pelvis was broken May 1, is recuperating well while confined to let his bones knit. He’d have died without the help from our vet because, like the carrots, I didn’t know what to do. Her instructions, which I have practiced faithfully despite the inconvenience of scheduled feedings of wet food to keep him hydrated, have worked. This feline member of the neighborhood will live to purr another day—and knock things off the table, pull my glasses off my face, and keep the other two young ones in line.

From these and other domestic challenges this month, I’ve remembered the virtue of practice. I doubt that it makes perfect for most of us—there’s really no advantage in excluding the vast majority of life’s experiences to aim for that exquisite God-like illusion. Practice, by which I simply mean keeping at it even when discouragements like wilted carrot tops might suggest giving up, is what leads us to learn, to discover what we need to know, to get past the panic stage and dig in. Practice can lead to innovation as well, which is what we all need to keep up with the changing conditions of our world. Practice is what leads us to know ourselves better, to bring closer those dreams lodged inside our heads and hearts, maybe even bring those dreams into being.

Like tasting real baby carrots again. Like finding a lost cat whose life would have been over, now on the road to recovery. Like speaking in public, finding words to reach ears attached to faces and hearts, not just writing for anonymous eyes. Practicing face-to-face what I preach in print is good for my soul. I’ll plant carrots again in the fall.

Trudy Wischemann is a dreamer of homesteads who writes, speaks and sometimes even sings. You can send her your carrot discoveries c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

Start typing and press Enter to search