Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden) See my garden and borders in various seasons. spring

Working Through Problems – with a Little Encouragement from Bruce Lee

Once you establish the habit of always looking for the good in any situation, it makes difficult situations easier to deal with.

Although the good is always there, that doesn’t mean that we prefer this new situation to the previous one.

And we all know that sometimes looking for and especially “working with the good” is a lot easier to say than do, even if we’ve already established that habit.

Such was the case with me back in October.

Bruce Lee Had the Same Problem

I broke my femur in June of last year and was in my kitchen floor for 3 1/2 months while it healed. When I was finally able to move, scooting (in a sitting position) was all I could do. Not fun but at least I was moving.

When I tried to stand I had to deal with the problem of one leg being an inch or so shorter than the other. (I figured Bruce Lee had the same problem and he did very well. So why couldn’t I?)

After many tries with cutting cardboard for a lift in my shoe, I finally came up with what appears to be the correct adjustment. (Even with the lifts, I don’t think I do as well as Bruce Lee did without them. 🙂 )

Not Wanting to Push Through the Difficulties

It was at this point that I wished all my borders would disappear in the blink of an eye. And some days, I still do.

I just couldn’t bear the thoughts of planning a strategy and doing what was necessary to “tend” them back into easy maintenance areas of enjoyment and beauty.

One of the things that has always kept me motivated to do a little each day (no matter how I feel or what the circumstances) is my dislike for the hassle of “big jobs”. Doing a little everyday of the year (except when the ground is frozen) makes gardening easy and enjoyable.

If I Want to Eat, I Have to Garden

Since I depend on my garden for most of my food, working on it was a necessity. But it wasn’t appealing.

Help In Getting Around

It took me until February of this year to build enough muscle in the left leg for adequate stability to work in the garden. But I still need support when walking.

Below is a picture of aids that enable me to work and get around. The rollator stabilizes me when walking to and from garden and borders. And it carries my basket of tools. The crutch helps stabilize me when moving in my immediate work area.

Rollator with basket of garden needs.  Crutch.

Dealing With the Worst Part First

Almost a decade ago, an invasive species was allowed to grow on the property that borders ours. Their aggressive root system cobwebs through the soil and will (and has) spread 200 feet or more from the tree. That has changed the almost perfect conditions that existed in my current garden (and my borders) when started 20 years ago.

The saplings (some – 6 feet tall) that came up throughout the garden (and borders) in my 9 month absence was the first thing to confront. And that’s an ongoing priority.

Bringing You Current

I’ve done only minimum work on the borders; mostly taking the invasive trees out and cutting and pulling large weeds (like poke weed and morning glories) that might seed there. Some attention was given to my front borders since they’re right on the road.

The garden was and is first priority.

As of this week, about 60% of my garden is starting to look like my garden. (Small section pictured below.)

Lower end from the north side looking towards the entrance gate of the garden.
Blueberries – left top corner; Peas – lower left; 3 tomato plants – lower right; lettuce, cukes, onions, potatoes – center top and right;  the green patch in the middle is the weed nutsedge in the center path that I have not yet removed.

A Positive Out of the Negative

At least half of my garden will get a rest from crops this year since I can’t get to all of it.

With early blight so prevalent in areas that have our hot humid weather, I find it important to use a  3 year rotation for tomatoes (as well as many other crops). Any part of the garden that gets a rest can be counted as one year in a crop rotation schedule.

Four year rotation would be better, but I don’t have that much space.  This year will give me an edge in various garden beds.

Three of 14 tomato plants, not counting my cherry tomato that volunteers each year.  I planted 4 Cherokee Purple and 11 Big Beef. That’s down from my usual 30 to 40 plants. Peas are in the row next to them and show at the very top right corner of the picture.

Another Positive

Since I couldn’t move from my kitchen floor during harvest time last year, things just fell off the plants and decayed over the winter.

One of the most enjoyable things that came out of that was the abundance of cucumbers that have volunteered in the garden.  (I plant the open pollinated variety Marketmore as my main cuke.)

The day I had planned to start cucumber seed, was the same day I found the volunteers coming up.  That let me know my timing to plant cukes was perfect.

Since I had so many volunteers I didn’t plant any seed then, but may start a few more towards the end of June for an extended season unless some late plants volunteer in the garden.

Cuke volunteer (left corner) accompanied by a stray potato, magentaspreen, spinach seeding, bib lettuce, and the very tops of onions in the next row.

A Positive Discovery

I’ve always planted potato onions in the fall.  That’s what you’ll find recommended by suppliers. In all these years I’ve never seen a recommendation for spring planting.

As you already know, I was not able to get to the garden for fall planting.

Fortunately for me, I have friends and readers who are “in the know”.  My friend Toni in Oregon wrote to me saying that most growers in her area spring plant potato onions!  I was thrilled and could hardly wait to get mine planted and see how they do.

They are doing BEAUTIFULLY! Much better than any planted in the fall.  Can hardly wait to see the end results.

Had I been able to plant last fall, I probably would never have mentioned this to Toni and thus, she would’ve not had reason to tell me what growers in her area do.

Turning the Problem into Part of the Solution

Since I was unable to replenish mulch last fall, my garden beds were drier this spring than I’ve ever seen them.  As long-time readers know, I can’t water my garden other than hauling in a watering can for seedlings from time to time.  I’m dependent on the “way” I garden to hold water in the soil. Part of that is keeping my soil covered at all times.

The picture below shows the upper quarter of the garden on the entrance side.  Since my priority was to work in places I wanted to plant, this area has not had much attention.   The straw-colored areas you see are not straw, but piles of various unwanted plants (chickweed, volunteer tomatoes, summer poinsettia, purple basil, some cresses, etc.)

When I was clearing those unwanted plants I couldn’t give priority to the time needed to get straw to the cleared beds.  So I covered the beds with the pulled plants.

Upper quarter of garden on entrance side.  Short row of peas on left.  The green area next to the peas is a path between beds where summer poinsettia and purple basil volunteers have come up. The straw-colored areas are piles of decaying unwanted plants.

In the picture below the brownish piles you see in the left center are the unwanted plants that I used to cover the beds. To the right is the bed and path that was cleared.

By the time I was ready to transplant my peppers to the garden the first week in June, those partially decayed piles had held enough moisture in the soil from recent rainfall that I was able to plant without concern.  I just pulled back enough of the pile to reach the soil and then planted the peppers.  They loved it and have already doubled in size.

Upper end of the garden.  Mound of decayed/decaying weeds that held enough moisture in the bed that I was able to plant a pepper there.

Can’t Use the Wheelbarrow Yet – but Manage with This Little Wagon

I’m not stable enough to use the wheelbarrow, but I can manage with this little wagon although it’s slow going.

I received this wagon as a gift a few months before I fell and broke my leg.

Pictures of June 6th Harvest

Harvest at this time in the season (this year) takes me about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. In prior years it’s been 2 hours, but I planted less this year. (Peas, radishes, blueberries, and then various herbs and greens for the day’s meal.  A potato or two for a meal.) Harvest for early maturing onions is just starting.

Below are early potatoes harvested for dinner.  I fixed my no-fuss easy potato salad these and fresh dill.  Wonderful.

Red Norland Potatoes harvested for my dinner on June 6th.

In the blue bowl (picture below) are various lettuces, russian kale, magentaspreen, parsley, dill, purslane and an onion.  All for that day’s meals.

(Purslane is thought of as a weed, but it’s one of the most nutritious greens you can eat.  It’s very mild tasting and I enjoy it. So much so that I have a hard time getting it in the house uneaten. It gives you protein, the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, the  vitamins a,b,c, and e, and omega 3 fatty acid.)

Peas after shelling made about 2 cups.  I didn’t plant as many peas as I wanted because I knew I couldn’t handle them this year.  Hopefully, I’ll get at least a gallon to freeze.  A lot will depend on the weather during the next few weeks.

Radishes are the French Breakfast variety.  Some years they’re better than others.  But German Giant is always my favorite. This post will tell you more and give you a delicious way to serve them.

The first blueberry bush to produce has just finished up and other varieties are starting to produce.  I’ll be harvesting blueberries into the first of July if all goes well.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ll enjoy your garden to the full this year.  If you’re dealing with difficulties in some form or when you encounter them in the future, try your best to look for good stuff and enjoy it.

Finding joy everyday in the seemingly small things of life is how we make it through the hard stuff.


All content including photos is copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com.  All Rights Reserved.


  • Theresa

    I love your attitude, may God continue to bless you.

    Your garden is further along than mine here in MI. I have followed your advice this year especially as we have had a lot of rain and I have just done a little every day and not tried to do it all at once.

    I worked with the mentally impaired for over thirty years.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who is physically strong be able to help you in exchange for some good food.

    Speaking of good food, Have you ever published the recipe for your easy potato salad?

  • I loved reading this article today! I really like your quote “Finding joy everyday in the seemingly small things of life is how we make it through the hard stuff”. Amen!!

    You are a blessing. I love how you share the practical authentic real stuff of life with hope! You bring hope to your readers..,more than you will ever know.

  • Karen, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
    Sharing “– the practical authentic real stuff of life with hope!” and bringing “hope to — readers” is exactly what my goal was in writing this post.
    Thanks again Karen for taking time to let me know your feelings.

  • Theresa, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, and a bit of your recovery. I have wondered about the times you were healing if you had medical help (leg in a cast,etc) and how far you live from other people. How did you sleep and eat and use the toilet while living on the kitchen floor?

    Your ideas have been a tremendous help for the garden and I purchased your book. You could probably write a book about your recovery and ideas about health as well.!! Keep sharing and I look forward to your emails and you are indeed a blessing to us………….Margo

  • Margo,
    I had no medical “help” and no cast.

    If someone had told me the day prior to my fall that I would have just enough help for 6 weeks to keep me alive — I would not have believed it possible as I don’t have anyone who “really cares” about me like Bill would have. But I did have two people with good hearts who wanted to help. And although they were extremely limited in their time, they did just enough that I lived and made it through. I existed on grated cabbage and carrot, and navy beans. Fixed by one of those two people. I kept a container of each in a cooler beside me along with water to drink. As you might imagine I got extremely thin.

    I slept when I slept. No regular hours

    The hardest part was taking care of “bathroom needs”.

    It was even harder when those two people were not able to help as they did the first 6 weeks. One of two tried to come at least twice a week for an hour to replenish my food etc.

    It’s been in my thoughts to write the details sometime in the future. Since most folks in our society are so programmed by the medical profession, I wondered how many people would even want to read about what I experienced.

    Knowing your thoughts was so helpful. Thanks for taking time to share them.

  • Theresa,
    Thanks so much for sharing not only your garden strategies, but your personal issues as well. TMG is WAY MORE than a simple garden blog…it’s sharing life lessons, both success & struggles, learning from hardships and remaining focused on the blessings we are given. Your words are an encouragement to us all…personally I always look forward to what you have to say, like a dear friend stopping over to walk through my garden, or share a few kind words across the fence.

  • Jim, it was so good to hear from you. It’s been a while since we spoke via email and I’ve missed you.
    Thank you for sharing how you feel about TMG.
    Comments from readers and friends like you mean so much to me and influence future writings. As long as I know that what I’m sharing is an encouragement to others, I’m motivated to keep writing. So again thank you for taking time to let me know your thoughts.
    Update me on your garden when you get a chance.

  • Hi Theresa!
    Honestly, your compelling story of survival is above inspiring, to the point of selling the script for movie rights! (I personally think Kathy Bates should play you!)
    Yours and Bill’s story together is one that should be told. Not often does a young couple commit to a future together living on the proceeds from their true passions in life. Your work on TMG convinces me that your calling and purpose were every bit as artistic and fulfilling as the art Bill created; seeds are your paintbrush and the soil is your canvas.
    …Somebody call Nicholas Sparks!
    Welcome back to the garden. It has missed you as much as you have missed it.
    Fondly, as always,

  • Wow Suzanne! Thank you for sharing how you feel about my “story”. It was very meaningful to me.

    I consider my main purpose in life as helping and encouraging Bill to be the best he could be. And I’m very grateful that we had each other.

    Since Bill’s been gone I feel that TMG is very much a part of my “calling and purpose” in life and I was moved that you perceived that. Thank you.

    Thank you for the “welcome back to the garden”. As I harvested lettuce, parsley, onions, blueberries, and peas this morning I thought of how “comfortable” it is to be in my garden and how grateful I am for it. The sum total of my life with Bill, my garden, and by extension my friends and readers like you who find encouragement in TMG make up all of who I am.

    Thank you so much for being part of my TMG family, Suzanne.

  • I am glad you are able to make it back out in the garden. Thanks for sharing. Guess I have some work to do to feel like I can find the good in any situation..

  • Good Afternoon Theresa. Long time since I have written. I have to tell you that I have dedicated this season to an experiment.
    I have realized many things about having a garden. I realized that I planted too many zucchini plants and they just about took over the space, with their HUGE leaves, shadowing my eggplants and some of the tomatoes when they were young. They almost killed my cucumber plants as well. I didn’t realize how big they would get. May not plant them next year. I took a few out and left only two, which are producing zucchini. I am amazed that they can grow so large almost overnight if not picked sooner.
    I am disappointed in my green beans which developed some type of bug I guess. I came back after being away a week and the leaves looked liked skeletons and I was so annoyed that I pulled them all out. They were basically dead. I believe Flea Beetles have returned, so got my homemade spray and gave all of the girls a dose.
    I also realized I didn’t use as much straw as I should have but I loved the idea and will use it again next planting season.
    I realized that the garden is my happy place, almost sacred to me. I wish I could spend more time there.
    Since this was my first garden I realize I didn’t plant by plan and just put things where I had, or thought I had space.
    My flowers though have done gang busters. I have Zinnias, my sunflowers are over ten feet tall. I don’t know maybe that is how they grow, but they are huge. I have cosmos and Rudbekia and another vine type of plant that had the most beautiful orange trumpet like flowers. It wan’s t morning glory.
    I am thankful for having found your site and for your encouragement and support with all of my questions.
    Do you think you will post anything about what to do if anything after it all stops producing? Is there any thing I could plant which may grow from now till the first frost?
    Thanks so much for your words of Wisdom and calmness.

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