Defeat in the garden

Kneeling next to my onion patch, overwhelmed, fighting back tears, struggling to pull vineweed without pulling out the tender onions that are being strangled. Every morning I’m out here trying to rescue my onions and every morning the weeds have grown back thicker.


I want to give up.

But something deep inside me says this isn’t about onions or weeds. And that walking away will mean more than losing my onions. So I kneel at the edge of the patch between my onions and my potatoes and cry.

I don’t know how to do this.”

“Why is this so hard?”

I know where these thoughts are leading me, and I try to keep my head down. Try to focus on what I’m doing right now. It’s only onions. It’s only weeds.

But I do look up. I look up to the corn that has been overwhelmed by grass. I had read something about tilling well, planting thick and not worrying too much about the weeds because the corn will shade them out soon enough. It wasn’t working. The clover had grown in so thick it was shading out the little stalks and they were so thin and weak from lack of sun, I was having difficulty telling them apart from the grass.

They were planted too thick to weed with a hoe. I had a vague notion that if I could pull the weeds back a little, the corn would take off and all the work we had put in to planting it would not have been for nothing.

I crawl forward, leaving my onions for the corn. I look for the first corn plant so I can find the row and begin pulling the weeds back. Only I can’t find it. From one morning to the next, the weeds have grown in so thick I can’t tell where I worked only yesterday.

I collapse there between my onions and my corn, screaming at the weeds. Screaming at life. And then I give up.

“I’m done,”

I say to my garden as I walk straight through the corn. Straight through the beans. Straight to the gate with no care for what I trample.

I walk in the garage to get the mower. The keets and chicks scatter in their brooder as I fling open the door. I look at them and try to remember how it was when they were but a plan on paper, a part of my Master Plan. But I can’t. All I see is their little bodies scattered about the property. Like the geese. The ducks. The chickens. The ducklings.

I feel my jaw set, my heart harden as I prepare the mower for what I’m about to do.

I think about my Master Plan and wonder why I ever thought I could do this. Of all the things I’ve lost since Mattias’ death, the hardest has been the future. I used to look forward to life. To the adventure of the everyday. I wasn’t just the-glass-is-half-full type. You could give me an empty glass and I would look forward to all the things I could someday fill it with.

But now it doesn’t matter what’s in the glass nor how full it is. If I think about it too much, it all tastes bitter.

To be continued . . . and I promise this has a happy ending . . .


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I hate weeds! Especially since all of our weeders have moved out; we’re empty nesters now! Growing without chemicals is difficult since the weeds seem to grow as big as the plants don’t they? We tried shallots this year and did pretty good with them but never onions. I’m not sure we have the right soil for them. We, my husband and I just go out every evening and do a bit of weeding and it seems to keep up with our gardens. The only thing we don’t weed is the potato garden. There just doesn’t seem to be any… Read more »
Phoebe @ GettingFreedom

Ah, you’ve got me on the edge of my chair! Good thing you said happy ending…my heart was beginning to ache for lost veggies. 😉

They’re crazy, Jen! This vineweed is driving me insane. For every one I pull, I get three the next day. The beans were also devoured by worms. And my strawberries. Ooh, am I upset. We laid down a thick layer of straw and most of it blew away. The grass is hard to pull through the straw so we spent hours pulling back the straw, pulling the grass, laying down paper to completely black out the sun and replacing the straw with a thicker layer. That very night a storm came and blew it all away. Two days later, you… Read more »

Anyway, I wasn’t in a very happy state of mind, but I didn’t want to leave everyone thinking I was wallowing in misery for a day or two until I finish writing. 🙂

That was me about 4 years ago. We started a garden from pasture and the pasture took over before much had a chance to grow. This happened for 2 years before we finally took back the garden with a no till approach. We used a turning fork and worked the clay soil by hand for 2 years, still planting and mostly harvesting very little. But by year 4 we overcame and the garden was ours. However we lost our house & the garden this past November and now we are starting over at a rental property. We used black plastic… Read more »

I read your blog regularly. Praying for your family has been a blessing to me. Lately, I have tried to figure out why your story has become so important to me. Then it occurred to me that you are living out my worst fear and still honoring God while serving your family. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

The strawberry farms in our area plant wheat with their plants along with putting down the straw. It works beautifully.

Ok, I hear you. Can I just say….I read the square foot garden book a few years ago and am in my second year using his method. If I said how easy it is-well I’ll just say there are now weeds. I love your honesty here, we all have these moments. Anyway basicly you build a box, put down a weed mat, fill with his “mix” (found at any homecenter), and plant. It does cost a bit to set up your boxes. I think it costs less if you build the boxes longer i.e. 4×16 but time saved in watering,… Read more »

I like raised beds, but our garden is rather sizable at 3000 square feet making them a little cost prohibitive. My husband bought me a little mini-tiller, though, so I have great hopes that next year will go better. I just have to plan my rows so the tiller will fit. 🙂

My geese would have worked well on the grass in the strawberries, but the neighbor’s dog tore through a chain link fence and he and one of our dogs killed them all.

Amy Smallwood

Your very last sentence is more prophetic then you probably realize. I think it’s what God would write in a letter to you, if He were to personalize one for you.

To be continued – I promise it has a happy ending.


Yes, Amy. I think that is the part we forget on this faith journey. The I promise, this has a happy ending. 🙂


mm.. interesting. i’m wondering what could be the happy ending.. when you publish it?



Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight

Oh no.
So glad there’s a to-be-continued…


how i used to see the future is so different from where i am now, from who i am now, and definitely how i SEE everything now!

there is a happy ending coming. and it is worth waiting for.

why do hard days even have to exist?! (i know this answer, but i still don’t like the hard days.)

I look at the future very differently now. When my children are impatient for something, I used to tell them there is plenty of time. Now, those words catch in my throat. I used to wonder what my children will be like when they are grown. Now, when I start to do that, I wonder IF they will grow up. I used to imagine my old age as a time to look back with satisfaction on the completion of my child-rearing years and enjoy grandchildren. Now I imagine it as a lonely time of continued contemplation on the loss of… Read more »

Wow this is so sad, i really hope you’re not lying about the happy ending and that it’s coming this week


I had planned on writing it last night, but someone fell asleep watching Doc Martin with her husband. 🙂


ohhhh no!!!! Please write the happy ending….. I can’t wait!!!!


[…] springs forth Friday, June 24th, 2011 | Author: Dana Continued from Defeat in the Garden and really, hope tastes sweeter when you remember where it brought you […]

Sharon Fielding

Those nasty weeds are a right little pain in the…….(bottom)