Monday, April 11, 2011

This Year's Garden

I have a degree in agriculture. I garden. If I didn't, I think I'd wither and die myself. There's something about dirt under my fingernails that stirs my juices, making me feel alive.

I'm equally passionate about writing stories, editorials and blogs . . . my novels. Cut me off from composition and I find myself doodling on napkins, snatching up crossword puzzles, marking strengths and weaknesses in magazine features.

My garden changes each year. First, you can't plant some vegetables in the same ground each year. The proper practice is to rotate your crops every season. Done correctly, each crop fertilizes the soil for another vegetable. For example, you follow a root vegetable of potatoes or carrots with a legume such as peas or beans, then switch to something in the family of cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and from there to tomatoes or corn. So that means I'm forever replanning my 40 x 50 foot garden. There's the sun's directional movement to consider, the water runoff, and walking paths.

My nemesis is watermelon, which happens to be my family's favorite fruit. Each year our melons rot before they ripen, and I've moved them to four different places. This year, I built trellises to get them off the ground. They are
strong, anchored and designed not to block the sun from the other crops. My signature change for 2011.

My signature writing changes for 2011 are honing social media and molding a more complex plot for my newest novel. My plot is my garden trellis - more strength and more support. The garden and the story will grow better.

Goals are important. Each year I analyze what worked and didn't work last year with my crops. I do the same with my writing. Last year, I gave up magazine writing (except for Chicken Soup submissions - a weakness) to focus on my fiction. The year before, I entered novel contests. The year before that I played with sidekick characters for the novel series.

Never settle for last year's goals. Even if last year grew well. Like a garden that isn't rotated, disease sets in. It takes constant analysis and adjustment to keep the plants alive, thriving, and productive.

NOTE: That pic is in my kitchen, a small sampling of last year's crop. This year? Bigger, better, and onward!


widdershins said...

Yum, home grown goodies ... can't be beat!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Analyzing what works every year, rotating where you plant your talent--great advice!

Terri Tiffany said...

I've done similar changes with my goals--opting to stop writing articles and try to learn this thing called fiction. Your produce looks wonderful!

Mary Ingmire said...

I like your "trellis" as a metaphor for strengthening plot. Over the weekend I unjumbled the mess my clematis had become so its blooms would look their best. I wish I had thought of the connection you made.

Jessica McCann said...

This is an excellent analogy, Hope, and a great lesson for writing and life. And I love the photo you shared. Thanks for sharing that, as well as your insights.

Karen Lange said...

You are inspiring me; I still have to finalize my garden plans. Watermelons have been a challenge for me too.

Need to revisit my writing goals; thanks for the push!

Barb Hodges said...

Hope, it was my pleasure to meet you around the fireplace at the MWG conference. Your comments were very helpful. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to share with us.

Hope Clark said...

Hey, Barb! I so enjoyed that fireside chat. I wish they did more of those. I think they are so productive. St Louis's conference was awesome.

Sally said...

I, too, love the gardening experience. I'm enamored with tomatoes and continue to try and produce that successful bumper crop.