A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. Gertrude Jekyll

This is the first year that I have ever had a garden.  Oh sure, I have enjoyed having a few tomato plants in the backyard before, but this is the first time that I have had anything even remotely close to a real garden.  It’s not big, by any means, but it’s way more than I need!

Lessons From The GardenI’m a bit surprised by how thoroughly I’m enjoying it.  There’s just something so nourishing and soothing to my soul about digging in the dirt, planting some seeds or plants, watering them, and watching them grow.  I did it the old fashioned way with a shovel, a trowel, lots of sweat and an extra long water hose.  When the first green sprouts poked through the dirt towards the sunlight, it made my mouth curl into smile often.  With delight and pride, I watched the beautiful crowns of broccoli fill out and thrive.  It was fun to research and learn what in the heck kohlrabi is (you would think I would do that before planting it) and when and how to harvest and eat it.  Because it is my first time planting, I’m learning as I go, and it occurs to me that the lessons from the garden are applicable to life.

I planted really early around the middle of April partly because that is when it worked with my schedule and partly because I had the impatience of a novice.  Several times in that first couple of weeks, I had to stake out the area and cover the budding garden patch with sheets because of late frost and chilly nights.  As with most things in life, a little patience would’ve saved me a lot of time and effort.

A man who is master of patience is master of everything else. George Savile

I already know that I seriously over planted and didn’t consider which plants are continual producers and which plants produce only once therefore I had six broccoli plants ready to harvest within days.  While this was an overwhelming bounty for just me, I beamed when presenting friends and family gifts from the garden.  Broccoli is a one-time producer I have since learned.  At first, this was disappointing news, but that is perfectly OK as it allowed me to put more seeds in the ground.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.  Seneca

Lessons From The GardenI didn’t think ahead about the placement of the plants as they grew to maturity.  The broccoli plants were shading the kale too much.  (So, it’s good that they are gone).  The tomato plants are at the southern end of the garden. They shade everything behind them for a few hours in the middle of the day.  I will know next year to put them at the northern end and to consider the height of the mature plants and the position of the sun.  A little planning and foresight here will go a long way!  While I don’t want to spend large amounts of time or energy dwelling in the future, just as in life, I will learn from my mistakes, anticipate the probable outcome next time and act accordingly in the present to create the future I want to see.

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.  Alan Lakein

I went outside one morning a couple of weeks ago to find that deer had eaten my tomato plants down to nubs.  While it didn’t make me too happy that I wouldn’t be getting any tomatoes anytime soon, I found it fitting and reassuring even.  The nibbling of the deer was a poignant reminder to me that I am a part of the web of life coexisting on this Earth as are the plants in the garden.  The deer were just doing what came naturally to them and fulfilling their role in that web of life.  I got this natural deer repellent and sprayed it on the plants and around the perimeter of the garden.  The gross smelling stuff, which contains dried blood, urine, and anchovies, makes me gag.  I guess it has the same effect on the deer too because they haven’t been back.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle

While I thoroughly enjoy eating my veggies knowing that they are entirely organic and packed with nutrients having just been picked, I have to admit that I also feel a little sadness and guilt.  I read Lynn McTaggart’s book, The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World, a while back in which she tells of experiments done with plants and a lie detector like machine sensing electrodermal activity.  When a flame was held up to the leaf of a plant, the machine registered what would be interpreted as alarm.  As I rip the kale leaves off or cut the broccoli stems, I wonder, “Can they feel that?”  This helps me remember to eat mindfully giving thanks to the plants for their nourishment and to the sun, the rain, and the Earth for nurturing the plant I am consuming.  I’ve found that, by extending gratitude for the simple things in my life, I am always rich.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough,        and more. Melody Beattie


14 Comments

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Thank you, Sue, for taking the time to comment!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      I have to say that, while it IS certainly pretty with its brilliant purple-ness, I was not too fond of the kohlrabi. I do not think I will be growing it again.

      However, in all fairness, I harvested them too late. They were much bigger than the baseball size recommended. So, they might be better tasting and more tender if I harvest them earlier.

  1. Sounds like you are having a little fun and learning a little at the same time
    My daughter took over my garden this year which is alright with me
    Did some gardening in the past which was neat when we had fresh food to pick, cook & eat
    I liked having squash in the fall

    Chet

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Chet, hopefully, your daughter will share the bounty with you! That is great, if so. You get all the fresh veggies without the work! 🙂

  2. Judy Hampton Reply

    Good points, darling daughter. Thanks for the broccoli; it was so tasty and tender. Love to you, Mom

  3. Dear Debbie:
    I had to smile when reading this post. This year was my first time at trying a garden. I dug up the dirt with a shovel etc. just like you discribed. I started everything from seeds- and even that was a learning experience. Just today I was out tackling the different plants that I now think (per research) has a virus. Funny, I purchased my first computer USED “with a virus.” Oh well- we live and learn. It’s very exciting to see things grow. My first squash- an animal bit it in half- oh well you just have to go with the flow. I have learned, just like you, that I will certainly do things a bit different next year– but have no regrets about having my garden this year. Happy gardening…

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Barbara…thanks for making me laugh. I left out that my very first tomatoes had some kind of rot (one of the joys of organic gardening?), and I chucked them. We had heavy rains the other day, and ALL my tomato plants fell over and were laying on the ground despite being in those wire support thingies. That was fun. I was out there in the pouring rain with a hammer driving stakes into the ground to support righting them. It is always an adventure, that is for sure! 🙂

  4. What a beautiful post! I love these lessons and these quotes are so delicious too. I appreciate your response to the deer. The wild pigs come through and dig up our so called “lawn”, but I never get mad. I figure, they were here first and the land doesn’t really belong to me.

    As to over-planting, you can just pretend it was ‘French Intensive’ gardening!

    Gardening isn’t easy in Hawai’i since the pests are tripled and they all live through the winter. But I’ve found what I can grow and enjoy doing so immensely. I find it’s a wonderful time to relax the mind and let go. I’m glad you’ve found joy digging in the dirt too!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Sandra, thank you for your kind words. Sounds like Hawai’i has its own unique challenges and advantages as every place does. That would be so neat to see wild pigs.

      When the deer visited, it really made me feel integrally connected in a way that I had not before. I thought I lived in too congested of an area. I have not seen them in the day light.

      I feel the same way as you with the pigs. They were here first and it is not MY land. Goodness knows, we have limited their living space tremendously. They cannot avoid us!

  5. denise ward Reply

    Thank you Debbie, it was a totally, satisfyingly delightful article.

  6. Pingback: 6 Ways Gardening Easily Improves Your Mental Health - The Best Brain Possible

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