Welcome to Day 1 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge! During the month of April, I, along with hundreds of others, will blog every day but Sunday. Each day’s subject will start with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for this year is Dishing the Dirt…thoughts on life through the lens of gardening.
My apple trees are stretching and yawning from their winter sleep, with tiny leaves unfurling. (I cheated — the photo is from last year — they’re not flowering yet.) They don’t look like much right now, but soon they will be thick and lush. I will coax them into the springtime with sprays of nettle teas, with neem to prevent fungus, and with a fresh layer of compost to feed the soil. Dandelions, comfrey, and fava beans will fix oxygen in the soil and nourish their immune systems.
As I dodge raindrops outdoors, indoors I am pruning, feeding, and weeding a novel. In the winter, writing comes easily, because the garden is dormant, but when the sun lengthens in the sky after the equinox, the garden and the writing fight for attention. I’m often pruning one plant to protect the space of another, and it is the same with my writing life.
When the first fruits form, those tiny, precious apples, I turn ruthless, removing at least two-thirds of them. It’s tough love. Last year I thinned my plum fruits six times, and I still lost a few branches due to collapse. Though the tree recovered with incredible resilience, I was devastated. That won’t happen again. Ever.
Not only does thinning protect the wood of young trees, but it also gives the surviving fruit needed air and sun. Thinning prevents worms from sneaking in and munching the harvest, and it keeps any developing fungus from spreading too much. The remaining apples will grow larger and taste sweeter.
I’ve been editing What She Knew, as ruthless with the text as I am with the baby apples. A few months ago I lopped off the entire last third of the novel because I didn’t like its direction. Neither gardening nor novel writing is for the squeamish! I’m feeding it new words and adding dimension through a subplot. Soon I will send it on to my editor for the first round of professional edits, though I’m sure I’ll end up doing some vigorous rewriting.
Come September, I check the apples frequently for readiness. They’ll be ready for sure in October. It’s a heady time as I gather and process the harvest, storing the best apples and turning the rest into applesauce.
After multiple rounds of edits and proofreading, it will be time to harvest What She Knew, too. Let’s hope so, anyway!
And then, oh then, the taste…that first sweet, juicy bite into the meat of a large Golden Delicious or Fuji. Not a bit of sugar goes into the applesauce, just a bit of cinnamon to enhance its natural sugary goodness.
Will the sweetness of What She Knew resonate with readers as my apples do with me? Only time will tell, but with any harvest, there is deep satisfaction with completion, with the tangible results of another year’s hard work and loving care.
Now I really want an apple! Sorry, I’m not the world’s best commenter. And I really do want an apple.
I sometimes struggle with the comments, too. I want to say something others haven’t already said, or be clever. Oh, well. Have an apple!
I love apples, and this is SO making me want to go bake apple pie. Yummm. Apples are the best.
Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
I agree! We freeze a lot of applesauce, and it’s so so very delicious. Thanks for dropping by!
My dad loves to garden and probably has my brother’s old bedroom full of seedlings. Not sure mother nature is going to make it easy though. It snowed here the other day. As for me, I don’t have a green thumb. I’ve killed cacti.
~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
Member of C. Lee’s Muffin Commando Squad
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author
It’s been a tough winter for a lot of the country. I’m in the Pacific Northwest, where our winter has been gentle and our spring early. As for cacti, I think they deserve to die…but that’s just me! 🙂
So you’re looking forward to a double harvest?
The apples and the book!
Hard work = success.
Happy A-Day! 🙂
Thank you for visiting my blog!
Yep, let’s hope so! I’ve worked diligently on this book, though it seems to have a mind of its own. Maybe I’ll get to munch on an apple while reading the published version.
Thanks for hanging out here. I’m looking forward to your other posts!
I love your comparisons of gardening and pruning to writing and editing. My boyfriend and I were discussing apple trees today (he wants to plant a couple), and I was asking about the pruning and coddling that was required. TLC is necessary for healthy growth!
Play off the Page
Thanks, Mary! My favorite book for the fruit trees is The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips. It tells you what to do with the trees and when, and it doesn’t matter where you live. He uses events like “bud break” and “petal fall” to tell you what to do next. Also, there are some GREAT pruning videos on YouTube. I was lucky enough to get a lesson by a local farmer, but the YouTube videos were really helpful.
Great post, thanks!! Love apples!!
I do, too. I confess I got a bit carried away by planting four apple trees, though. There’s just the two of us! My long-term goal, though, is to produce enough food to take a wagon full each week to the food bank, so I can’t have too many apples.
I always enjoy your meditations on gardening and writing. Larry and I were just talking about the garden this evening, about how we need to prepare the soil in the raised bed. It will be our second season with the raised garden. Looking forward to it!
I’ve been thinking of you…I know you’ve had a long winter this year! I hope your garden continues to bring you joy, as mine does for me.
I LOVE how you compared writing to gardening! I am kind of the same way- writing more over the winter because those gardens are dormant and I have the time! Soon though, very soon, I will be able to get back into the gardens and play in that dirt! I can’t wait!
Ah, a kindred spirit! Yes, it is so much fun to play in the dirt. No matter what’s going on with me or how I’m feeling, five minutes in the garden and I feel a reset.
Great article! Good luck on your A-to-Z posts. I’m looking forward to them! I grew up with a garden in the backyard and an aunt with a huge apple orchard. Not only did this bring back memories, but it also helped to think about my writing! If you get the chance, drop by http://downhomethoughts.com and leave a thought or two. Keep up the great work!
Glad to meet you here, Shawn. I came late to gardening…didn’t start until age 51. I think it’s wonderful when people tell me stories of growing up around gardens and orchards.
I like the sound of your blog and will run over and take a look. Good luck with the challenge!