Simple Life Lessons Learned Through Gardening

I love to garden… it’s my happy place. I’ve never felt better and more at peace than when my hands are covered in soil, my boots are filthy and I’m rearranging and tending to my garden. It’s a wonderful thing. But sometimes when I’m gardening I recognize some valuable life lesson, some analogy to real life that may not have been validated to me had I not seen it through the lens of a farmer. When these epiphanies strike I have this realization that many of our current societal problems could possibly be remedied if more people were out in their gardens, learning the most basic of life lessons from nature. Over the past few generation, we as a society have been severed from the everyday practice of growing our own food and the lessons we learn from it and I think it has directly effected society in a number of ways. I’d like to share some of the lessons that I have been fortunate enough to receive from my garden over the past few years in the hopes that their message can be spread further.

LESSON # 1
THINGS GET EASIER WITH TIME (AND EVERYTHING IS CIRCULAR)

Starting our garden last season at the Gemmell Homestead in Middletown, MD

Starting our garden last season at the Gemmell Homestead in Middletown, MD

When you first set out to turn a grass covered field into a thriving farm or garden, you’ve got a lot of work on your hands. Turning the sod over, pulling out rocks and clumps of grass, smoothing out the soil, adding compost, all to make the beds ready for your plants. The same can be said of just about any endeavor in life whether it be starting your own business, going back to school or starting a family. The beginning is tough and filled with uncertainty. Sometimes you wonder how the hell you’re actually going to do what you really want to do and whether or not you’ve got what it takes to make it happen. But inevitably, the first season passes. You put in your hard work and you did it… you turned a grassy field into a farm. Then comes year two and you begin to realize, “Oh… my beds are already dug and ready to go. All I have to do is add a little compost and I’m ready to plant.” You realize that your second season, while still challenging, isn’t as hard as the first. Everything is circular. Life goes around and around. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, they will undoubtedly resurface and you will have to learn them again. But if we have the patience and foresight to learn from our past, the second season can be a lot easier than the first.

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LESSON # 2
WEEDING AND STAYING ON TOP OF YOUR S@#T

Weeds are a pain to any farmer or gardener but guess what… they’re gonna grow. You will have weeds in your life. Now there are a couple ways to go about dealing with something inevitable. You can spray your weeds with chemicals so that your life is easier but we all know what happens when we try to eradicate something inevitable in order to make our personal lives easier… people suffer from it on a large scale. We’re having tons of problems with large scale, industrial agriculture and their approach to weeds. The chemicals poison our soil, our food and our waterways. So artificially handling your weeds isn’t a good idea.

Another route to handling weeds is to ignore them. Just get to them next week. But if you leave your weeds unattended, a job that would have taken you an hour is now out of control and you have to spend all of the time you would have dedicated to gardening on weeding. This is a counter productive approach obviously and it doesn’t work. Weeds will choke out your plants and take over your garden if you don’t stay on top of them. The only sensible solution to weeds is to take care of them daily, little by little… to stay on top of them. This is your garden teaching you a valuable lesson and it’s this: “Life is full of weeds. They exist and that’s all there is to it. It’s your job to decide which plant is the weed and which is the one you want to keep and from there on, it’s your job to stay on top of it. Because if you don’t, you’re gonna spend your whole life tending to the things that don’t matter instead of tending to the things that give you life.”

LESSON # 3
PARENTING THROUGH GARDENING

My beautiful daughter Amber and her friend Harrison Ford during a recent "Dress-up Party."

My beautiful daughter Amber and her friend Harrison Ford during a recent “Dress-up Party.”

Gardening is a lot like parenting. It’s important to know who your kids are in order to give them what they need and to protect them from the things that they don’t need. That’s really all there is to gardening: knowing what your plants need and providing it, while protecting them from what will do them harm. If you let your kids hang around with “weeds” those “weeds” are going to deprive your child of specific the “nutrients” they need in order to thrive. The difference between a tomato plant that has been weeded, watered and given healthy soil versus a tomato that’s surrounded by weeds, hasn’t been watered and has very basic, dry soil is significant. The same goes for your children.

These are just a few lessons provided to us by our gardens. There are so many more valuable life lessons can that can be acquired by simply getting out and reconnecting with nature, because no matter how much we like to pretend we’re not part of nature… we are. We can build as many suburban developments as we want but we will always be natural beings and its through our connection with the earth that we relearn who we truly are.

I hope this blog was helpful and that you enjoyed reading it. Please like it and share it with a friend.

Till next time.


This blog entry was also published here.