Monday, June 29, 2009

Lessons I learned from Gardening

"Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."
George Washington (1732-1799)

My favorite time of the year is fall with all its splendid colors, milder and warm days, and harvesting. Unless we live out in the wild, without planting in the spring, there will not be a harvest in the fall. A garden has to be prepared in the spring, amended with fertilizers and composts.

Then we can sow the seeds, plant and water and … wait. We can do some cultivating during the summer, remove weeds and rocks coming up and … wait.

That is the greatest lesson that at times, like in life, we have to wait. During the first few weeks, the seeds are in the ground, there is no physical evidence that anything will grow there. With faith and trust in nature, we’ll see seedlings come up shortly. Time is on our side, we can see the process of growth after a while.

Then the nurturing and protecting starts: against bugs, critters, birds and other predators. Again we can only … wait. After many weeks and a lot of work, we can start harvesting and we’ll see the fruits of our labor. It is somehow predictable, but still depends on the weather and other external circumstances. I guess, that’s why most plants have such plentiful results, like you plant one seed of corn and harvest about 4-8 corn cobs with hundreds of new seeds. Nature is good and rewarding, by putting in just a little it gives you a lot.

Other Benefits of Gardening
- good moderate exercise
- builds stamina, strength and flexibility – the three keys to overall fitness
- stress relief
- better nutrition from local grown (organic) produce
- be part of the rhythm of life, get your hands in the dirt, get grounded
- be in the sun and get benefit of vitamin D

- grow organic
Organic fertilizers like seaweed or alfalfa meal are the best way to grow healthier plants. Often the residues from chemical fertilizers find their way into our ground water.
- composting, natural fertilizer, recycling
- garden composting creates usable material from your organic kitchen scraps and other garden waste.
- catching rainwater in barrels
Plants do better if given water free of mineral and chemical deposits. Using rain water is the purest way to irrigate your crops and ornamental garden.

- connect with neighbors and other people
- connect with nature
- connect with rhythm of life, get sunshine

- Gardening requires you to use your head and your creativity. The time spent planning the garden and researching different plants is a great brain workout. I do it during winter when I can’t go outside. Gardening gives me a chance to be creative. It involves our whole personality and give us a chance to let get results year after year.

Gardening is fun. Do you know where the expression "you have a green thumb" comes from? Gardeners snip off dead flowers or leaves which leaves a green residue on your thumb.

Relax --- it doesn’t have to be picture perfect. I like the surprise plants which suddenly grow and turn out to be another tomato plant or a lost squash or some of the beautiful Cleome which come back year after year even in places where I don’t want them. With their large pink, white, rose or purple flower heads, they grow 3-4 foot high plants.

I always leave some room for these surprises. Just like in life, you can plan everything perfectly, but you always have to be flexible and leave room for changes. As it says in bible, 1 Cor. 3:7 "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."
Here is a side with beautiful pictures and directions on planting a garden:

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