Deadheading (from the Drafts folder)

I was going through my Drafts folder and found this little piece I wrote last fall but never published. Seemed appropriate as I start to think about 2014, so I thought I’d go ahead and share it now. What are your thoughts and wishes for the new year?


Even though I’m actually a fan of the Grateful Dead, that’s not what that title is referring to. I’m sure you’re relieved!

My mom is a wonder with flowers, as was her mother, as was my grandma’s mother-in-law.

That skill seems to have skipped right over me.

I can grow almost any kind of vegetable, but show me a flower and I’ll show you a dead plant walking. But I still try, and this fall I bought a few mums to brighten up the place for our farm tour. And I try to remember to water them every morning after chicken chores. As I water, I pick off the spent blooms – deadheading – as my mother must have taught me at some point in time.

Deadheading encourages the plant to keep on growing and blooming. One of the purposes of flowers is to produce seed that will fall to the ground to germinate and grow the next year. If you don’t deadhead, the plant thinks, “Got my flowers, produced my seed. Boo yah, I’m done for this year!” and it quits. But if you remove the spent blooms, the plant will keep producing flowers in an effort to produce those self-perpetuating seeds. It’s a practice that can keep annual (and some perennial) flowers blooming all through the summer and well into fall. And it got me to thinking metaphorically…

(insert dreamy metaphorical thinking music here)

Deadheading is a practice that can be applied to our lives periodically as well. We have to remove the things that are no longer serving us, that are preventing us from continuing to grow and blossom. We have certainly done some deadheading with our farm business over the years. In that case, the things we cut out and the things we cut back on weren’t necessarily to help the farm itself grow (although I think it’s important and necessary if that’s your goal, too). Rather they helped us grow as a family. We started this farm for the sake of our kids, so that they would have the experience of the farm life we both grew up with. But at the same time, we wanted their childhoods to be an expression of their own interests and passions and we wanted to be available to them in whatever capacity they needed us. So we cut back on the number of farmers markets we did, so that we could be there to cheer them on at volleyball tournaments and to coach the football team.

Having one gone to college hasn’t actually been the sad, depressing thing I anticipated it to be. I mean, there have been moments, but overall I’m feeling like I have just a little more time and space. A moment to catch my breath. And I’ve been thinking about what I might do in the coming years, as the other 2 leave the nest and that time and space continues to increase. I think it’s time for some new dreams, new plans, new goals.

But it’s also time to do some deadheading. For example, I think generally I need to spend less time online. But one of my dreams/plans/goals is to become an active writer/blogger/photographer again which means… time spent online. So what I need is to deadhead some of my online activities – Facebook, Twitter, games, etc. – so that I can focus my online time doing things that support my new goals. I’m feeling a serious need to deadhead my closet in the spirit of Project 333. And deadheading our possessions means less time cleaning or maintaining them, freeing up time for other things.

Letting go of things or activities or relationships can be difficult and even painful. But it can also open up the time and space for wonderful new experiences and continued growth.

2 years ago:

How to Cook : Mayonnaise

How to Cook : Cheddarwurst Mac & Cheese

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