Late this past spring I ventured into uncharted territory: I planted a garden. I didn’t do any research about how to take care of plants, the proper setting for individual plants or how long they would take to grow, I just picked up a few babies from the Kershaw County Farmer’s Market and let them do what they do. The only thing I’ve watched grow from seed to herb is parsley, and it’s just now getting to the point where it looks edible. Still, I am proud of my little venture into creating a garden. It’s not extravagant; all of the plants are in a pot of some sort, but my short flirtation with plants has taught me some valuable life lessons.
1) Be patient
Nothing happens as quickly as you want it to--ever. Attempting to cultivate and sustain a garden is the ultimate lesson in patience. Be patient, consider the task in front of you often, be consistent and just enjoy yourself in each stage of growth. Sometimes you’ll wish things will magically appear, but, in general, things are so much sweeter when you work for them.
2) Be consistent
You don’t have to do something every single day to have an interest in it, but you do need to be consistent. Plants need taking care of and that means you have tend to them on a regular basis. Depending on the stage of life your plant is in they will require more work. Harsh weather, the location of a garden and they type of wildlife present in your area require more specialized care.
3) Be thoughtful
Give thought to what you are growing and the best conditions for its growth. That’s something I didn’t do as a newby gardener, but have cultivated along the way. I already have a plan for my next garden.
4) Be realistic (that may mean lowering your expectations or completely throwing them out of the window)
There’s a quote that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, create a plan,” or something like that. Things are never going to go as perfectly as expected. I’m a hard-core idealist-- a lot of times to my own detriment-- but gardening has shown me that I need to let up on the expectations I have of myself and others. There is nothing wrong with having goals, but they need to be realistic enough to achieve.
There is beauty in imperfection. Real life is a once in a lifetime experience; it’s honest and quiet gorgeous if you decide to look at it that way.
5) Sometimes things just don’t work out
I originally bought two tomato plants. One had a single stalk, the other had several stalks. The first night I was brave enough to put them outside we ended up having a rainstorm. I went to check on the plants the next morning and the tomato plant with one stalk broke in half. I was highly disappointed. I kept wondering if there was something I could have done to prevent that from happening, but the reality is I didn’t know that plant would break. Oh well. I left the plant in the pot in hopes that it would grow back and it did, but what grew back was too heavy for the original stalk and the plant started tearing down the middle, causing it to lean heavily to one side of the pot. This week I officially called it quits with that particular plant. At least I tried.
6) Life is fragile
The other tomato plant started to bloom. There were a bunch of tiny green tomatoes starting to pop up and I was getting very excited.
Early last week, however, I noticed some of the branches were bent. I tried to tie them up in effort to save the bent branches, but within a matter of days vibrant green leaves turned to brown shriveled ones. My goal this weekend it cut off the dead parts so that the rest of it will have a chance. I’ve learned to just enjoy them while I can and let them keep letting it fight until the end.