I’m an unlikely gardener. Contrary to my love of nature and interests in a natural lifestyle, there’s just something that really never clicked well for me: growing “green things”. Even though I love plants, unless it’s a “plant of steel” houseplant, it usually doesn’t make it.
When we bought all of our seeds and our garden pods to start them in this summer, we were pretty much convinced they would be a complete waste of our money. You see, I tried this gardening thing last year and even the pre-grown plants we stuck in the ground died. We had one tomato plant that lived. That’s it and that one just barely made it producing only a half dozen or so.
The house we bought when we moved to here in PA has 3 raised garden beds and we were excited about them. Contrary to being absolutely certain this would be another failed year of gardening to put in the books, we went for it. We got all of our supplies and made a family day of it.
We started them all in the pods and waited to see what would grow. We planted squash, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, pumpkins, kale, snap peas, radishes, parsnips, tomatoes, watermelon, Basil, and green beans. We would water and wait for sprouts to come and they did. We would put them in the ground and then see if anything would truly come of them because we’d been at that step before only to fail shortly after transplanting to the ground.
This year though, it’s been different. Maybe it’s the weather here in Pennsylvania or maybe it’s me tending to the garden better than normal because I’ve made it a bit of a priority this time around. It’s been a bit of therapy for me I suppose. I go out and I check it daily and pick the weeds, pull off the things that are ready to be harvested and then turn around and do it again in the next day or so. It was a good place to spend my energy when I need to de-stress or process things. Some days I have the kids by my side and other times I’m out there during nap-time in the quiet alone with my thoughts. There’s just something about being in the quiet with your hands in the dirt with nothing but the noises of nature, putting energy into something that’s flourishing because you’ve put time into it.
It’s a bit like life, I suppose.
One day, a few weeks back, I was out weeding in the gardening during a weekend nap time and Ryan came out to ask what I was doing. I told him I was weeding because I felt like it was something I enjoyed. He needed a bit more explanation about it because really, who loves weeding, right? I explained that by taking my time to come through and take the weeds away from our flourishing plants they are able to grow because the nutrients aren’t taken away from the plants we want to thrive only to go to the weeds trying to choke them out. He knew the process but I’m not sure he expected what was going to come next.
I went on to tell him that I think about lot when I’m out here and weeding the garden is a lot like picking the weeds in our life, you know? Weeds are inevitable, they are going to pop up – in life it’s people or things that suck life from us in a negative way. If we let those people and things stay in our lives where we are trying to flourish, we don’t grow like we are supposed to because too many things are pulling from us. The weeds have their place, the bugs kind of feed on them instead of our thriving plants which is good – which is why I toss them over into the corner of the empty corner of our last garden bed but keeping them away from our harvesting plants is important. If I don’t make sure to tend to the weeds out here they’ll take over what’s thriving so well.
He was a little taken back I think but he knew what I was talking about. He didn’t have to understand why I loved weeding so much but he knew what I meant. In fact, he and I usually know exactly where the other is coming from so he probably could have listed each person or thing I was talking about in that moment but instead he just read between the lines and listened. We’ve experienced that time and time again in our lives with people and things within it.
Life Lesson: We all have people that are just naturally there whether it’s family or it’s work that have ulterior motives, are ill-spirited or sometimes don’t have to do much of anything to make us feel like we need an energy recharge after being around them. It doesn’t necessarily even mean people – it could be too much electronics or social media that is taking our time and energy instead of putting that energy into the most important parts of our lives.
When we planted our squash and zucchini we had the expectation that maybe one or two might work out. Our hearts weren’t set on even those two though, so we planted about 6 right there together. Little did we know that they all would grow and be abundant. Little did we know that the cucumbers we planted right next to them would do wildly well and then our watermelon would soon be thriving too. Soon we had most all of our plants thriving in one bed, all next to each other feeding off the same soil and having intertwining vines. We are clearly novice gardeners because had we had any successful experience in the past, we would have spaced things out a lot better.
Life Lesson: Kind of like taking the weeds out of the garden beds, having space between the plants so they can thrive is important too. Maybe that means we take space away from certain people in our outer circles or take some extra to have space for ourselves to recharge. Space isn’t a bad thing. This could mean outside friends or family can be in your life but you need extra space so you can thrive better. Boundaries in life and work are vital to thriving.
We Don’t Always See the Seeds Planted.
We grew tomatoes that we didn’t plant in our garden ourselves. The previous owners had a compost pile and they had tilled under tomatoes from last year’s harvest. We knew about them but we didn’t give that much of a thought when it came to what would grow up into our garden. However, we found weeks back that we had were growing tomato plants that we didn’t plant ourselves! This also happened with a pumpkin plant outside of the ones we planted in the garden that we didn’t plan for. We’ve been thrilled we have them but we didn’t realize they were coming and would come through harvest.
Life Lesson: Maybe it’s something we read that we don’t think much of but comes in handy later. It could be advice that was once given to us that didn’t seem relevant at the time but was exactly what we needed later. We could share something with someone that doesn’t feel relevant in their lives in that moment, we could forget about it, and they might come to us later because that seed was planted that we didn’t realize.
Too Much of A Good Thing Can Be Bad If It’s No Prepared For.
When I say our zucchini and squash plants flourished, I mean they flourished. We were pulling about a half a dozen or more out of the plants every week, if not more, and they were all the size of Ryan’s forearm. They were flourishing abundantly. At first we were wildly excited about how fast they were growing and the produce coming from them. We shared with the neighbors, we made zucchini muffins a few times, made a variety of zoodles and squoodles, grilled them up, sauteed them up, shredded them up. We had a lot more than we could ever need because we didn’t plan well for it. I’ve given some to new friends we’ve made at play dates, and recycled some back into our garden compost, so they’ve served their purposed decently but I could have used them in a better way had I planned better.
Life Lesson: When you don’t plan well for abundance you usually are thrilled in the beginning and soon find yourself overwhelmed not too long afterwards. Whether it’s abundance in money, relationships, or another area of life – we have to plan ahead to know what we will do at that time. Knowing how we will be blessed with that abundance and bless others with that abundance is a big part of the picture.
Growth Happens Even When We Can’t See It.
When we had our little seedlings in our pods, I wanted to be able to peek through the soil and see if there was anything happening. I couldn’t see below the soil but I had to keep tending to those seeds in hopes they would flourish. The kids would be antsy to see if there was a new sprout every day and I would tell them we had to be patient because with the right sun, water, and timing they would sprout – and they did.
Life Lesson: In our relationships, our businesses, and any other area of our life, we have to show up, do the work and be expectant of things we can’t see. Maybe that’s just consistently showing up in your business’ social media feed because you never know who is taking it all in and might just be moments away from reaching out. It could be showing up every day in your prayers with God and seeking his guidance in an area of your life. In parenting it could be just being consistent with your strong-willed child that needs extra love and care to get through a tough season. Even when we feel like we can’t see movement, we’ll see the fruit the situation will bear soon enough.
Pruning Makes for A Thriving Plant
Our Basil plant is thriving and once they get to a certain point in their growth they will grow flowers at the top. While the flowers are pretty, they halt the growth the basil. If you trim off the flowers at the the highest basil leaf, they will continue to grow more basil. With our thriving Kale plants, you have to cut prune them from the top to keep a thriving plant but if you forget about the bottom leaves they quickly turn yellow and dried out with the lack of sun. To keep healthy garden plants you have to prune them, just like trees and flowers.
Life Lesson: Even if things look pretty and shiny, sometimes we have to prune areas of our lives to make the core parts thrive. This could mean you have to cut out business tasks you don’t really have time for so you can focus on the things you excel at or need to put your time in. On the flip side, this could also mean that you have to cut back on your business priorities to focus on family priorities. You have to evaluate the more important parts of our garden and each plant to make sure the vital parts thrive.
Priorities: Where We Invest Our Time We See The Most Return.
While the rain and humidity here has certainly helped our garden thrive in the best kind of way, I also know that it’s thriving because I’ve made going out there and tending to the garden a priority. If I left the garden alone, we might have seen some progress but not the abundance we received. If I didn’t go to weed, to prune, to rearrange the vines before they got tangled into one another, who knows what would have come of the garden. I have had to work the garden into my life and into our priorities but we’ve benefited greatly from it.
Life Lesson: When we make time for our priorities they thrive. When we invest in our marriages and spouses, they thrive wildly. When we focus on our children and really hone in on their individual needs, they are able thrive. When we invest in our friends, our friendship thrive.
Your turn: Do you garden? What other lessons would you add to the list?