The Mourning Greenhouse

It’s been awhile Friends.  I’ve been gone.  Checked out.  Falling apart.  Healing.  Falling apart all over again.

This last year has been rough.  I don’t pretend that I’m going through anything any of you haven’t already gone through, or will go through at least once in your life.  To love someone is to eventually feel loss.  Nevertheless, it is always worth loving.

The multiple losses our family has been through this last winter have made us change the way things are done on the homestead this year.  And God has still provided.

We’re very blessed to live in the United States of America, where many of those who live in “poverty” still have iPhones (that they pay for monthly) and color televisions (on which they pay for channels monthly).  Here, we can always find food.  We may complain about the price, or a variety of other nuances, but we’ve still got it available to us.

For this I’m thankful for.

Because this year, we just couldn’t have kept our ¼ acre garden, and 1/3 acre three-sisters patch the way we normally would have.

Perhaps it would have been planted to capacity and even watered, but something had to go.  Either it would have been immaculate and I would have been a complete emotional wreck—which would no doubt have had a huge impact on my ability to be the best wife, best mother, and best friend that I could be.  Or, it would have been terribly kept—which again would have had an impact on me.  I would have felt extreme guilt, and failure as a mother and wife in my ability to provide for my family.

So after sharing my feelings with my Farmer early in the spring while the ground was still frozen, he actually suggested I do neither.  Don’t even plant a garden.  Not one annual this year. 

Because I’m secure in my love from him, I know fully that he meant every word.  I know I was free from this burden which any other year would have been a blessing.

No garden.

I let the dill take over.  And I love it.  (My chickens love it too as dill is a favorite of chickens.)

But I still planted in my Greenhouse.

I knew that I’d want to feel the dirt on my hands—just not in massive quantity.  I’ve named it my Mourning Greenhouse.

If I can get out there in the morning, I can start my day on a good note.

Ground work with the horses.  Tending to the greenhouse.  Running a few miles on the treadmill.  Lunch.

It’s not the typical homesteader’s summer, and I miss the garden tremendously at times, but I’m convinced it was the best decision for our family this year.  We all needed a break.

So what’s in the Mourning Greenhouse?

I planted potatoes.  Comfort food.

I tried bok choy for the first time, but that was an epic fail.

Spinach did well.

Flowers.  So many flowers.  If there is one thing I love as much as growing my own food, it’s growing beautiful flowers.  There are tiny bits of flowers everywhere this year.  Don’t get me wrong—my two main large flower gardens are pretty much empty—but I’ve tucked pops of color everywhere.  And some of those are in the greenhouse to see every morning.

Yellow raspberries.  They should be in the ground, in the berry patch, but it just hasn’t happened.  Yes, they are four feet tall.  Yes, we’ve been eating raspberries off them.  And yes, I’ll eventually get them in the ground.  But for now, they are therapeutic right there where they are.

Strawberries.  I tossed them in just so they wouldn’t die.  They haven’t given me any flowers, or berries, just a ton of runners and new plants, but it’s okay.  Next year, I’ll have a ton to pull out and plant in a new raised bed I’ve got prepared just for them.

Blueberries.  Now I’m just being lazy with these.  These are potted, and I usually pull them out during the summer.  But truthfully, if I can’t take enough care to move them out, then they probably would have been neglected to the point of death if they were out.

Peach trees and pear trees.  Two varieties of each, all dwarfs.  And one dwarf apple variety.  Most people try to get their fruit trees in the ground as soon as they can in the spring.  I never do.  I put them in large pots in the greenhouse letting them grow as strong as they can and then put them into the ground in the fall.  I’ve had much better success with these.

Two pecan trees.  Neither of which I have seen any signs of life from.  They remind me of myself.  I’m going to heal and show new signs of life soon.  Maybe if I keep tending to them, they will too.

Two hydrangea that I will prune into lollypop trees.  That’s the plan anyway.  They are awful bush-like at the present time though.

A potted basket mushroom tomato.  I’ve always wanted to grow this 60 day cold-loving heirloom.  And because I only grew a couple tomatoes this year, I finally went for it.  It’s glorious.

One zuchinni plant.  It’s tougher than I am.  It’s obviously not loving my lack of nurturing this year, but somehow it’s still alive.  It’s full of bad fruit.  But I still tend to it.

Volunteer borage.  My kids love the cucumber taste of the flowers, and since there isn’t a garden for them to run through and pick to their delight this year, they pilfer all the borage blooms they find.  It brings the bees in, so I love it.

It’s funny how therapeutic our hands in the dirt can be.  Even though we have started shopping for most of our food, it still makes me feel good to grow a few things.  Vegetables, berries, flowers.

They will all die or hibernate in a month’s time or a bit longer, but they help me move on until I see my loved ones again.

There are many different hats my greenhouse has worn over the years; season extender, seed starter, nursery, protection from the wildlife, emergency chick housing.  This year I added another one:  mourning therapy.

What temporary changes have you found most helpful on the homestead during your times of mourning?

During the most intense of homestead years, your garden plan needs to be adapted to a "focused" garden in order to get it all done. It's an intense year for us--here's our "focused garden" plan this year.

Are you in a hard season, but unable to escape having a garden, or really want to work through it? There are some ways to make your gardening easier on those hard years. Read about my Focused Garden that I’ve grown on what I call a “baby year” where I’m keeping a garden with a newborn.


  1. I’m glad your greenhouse could help you get through another unique year. I hope the next year is smoother for your.

  2. I’m so glad to see you’re back. I just wanted you to know how much I use your techniques. I now know my abundance of onions will be dried in an old dehydrator (outside), more about root cellars (we’re building a wallipini) and so many other tips. We also live in the mountains and so its nice to see how you thrive despite setbacks. Last year I lost my father and felt that I couldn’t move on but working in the dirt sure helped. Some days it hits hard still and some days are joyous. Crazy life for sure. I hope you can heal and feel love being sent your way and continue to share your story.

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