“Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit
He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero
As some of you may have surmised, I am taking an online course to improve my writing and blogging skills. In other words, I’m doing my best not to bore ya’ll to death. Not much work going on in the garden right now as I am resisting the urge to expand, but who knows what will happen come payday? I did get a chance to take a couple of photos of the garden’s goings-on and maybe I’ll get a chance to get my hands back in the dirt this weekend.
By Marcie Hans
Fueled by million man-made wings of fire
the rocket tore a tunnel through the sky
and everybody cheered.
only by a thought from God –
urged its way
through the thickness of black –
and as it pierced
the heavy ceiling of the soil –
and launched itself
up into outer space –
X marks the spot when looking for buried treasure.
When in the garden, tiny seedlings mark the spot. That spot where I planted a little, dry seed, and watered the brown earth that covers it. That spot that represents an exercise in trust, in hope, and sometimes… futility. My neighbors watch as I water a container full of soil. “What’s that?” they’ll ask. I proudly announce, “This is cherry tomatoes, and over here, these are beans!” We stare at the pot full of soil with a little popsicle stick garden marker denoting the plant variety and sow date. My neighbor smiles… and leaves.
I, on the other hand, remain. There are tiny treasures just beneath the soil. Some will emerge, some will not. Some will surpass even my imagination of what they could be, or become.
“All farmers are gamblers.”
This could have just as easily been the tagline for this blog, but it just wasn’t hopeless enough. To say that a farmer gambles is to say that the weather, or the market, or biblical-type pest infestations puts the farmer’s investment at risk. He knows how to grow vegetables. Much of what he knows won’t mean diddly in the face of severe drought, or monsoon, or the fact that the previous winter was too mild to kill off vast numbers of hungry garden pests. Therein lies the gamble.
My garden is not a gamble. It is an experiment; a classroom. It has been, in the past, an absolute failure. One might say, a complete waste of time and resources. That is, if the only benefit were vegetables.
What I’ve learned about gardening fills pages of a binder reserved just for that information: planning and preparation, recommended and tried and true vegetable varieties, companion plants, organic pest control, composting, storing options and recipes fill the pages. Yep, I’m kind of a nerd that way. And, yet, I know it is only a drop in the bucket of the knowledge, insight, and instinct I hope to possess in the years to come.
What I’ve learned in my garden is mostly about myself. Playing in the dirt, like riding on a bicycle, is as fun now as it was as a child. In the garden, I can accept not knowing everything and not be paralyzed with fear. I allow myself to fail over and over again and I’m totally okay with that.
To outsiders, it does not seem rational. My neighbors shake their head at the crazy garden lady out in the heat. My friends are just glad it’s a healthy occupation and have no hopes of ever being on the receiving end of a bounty of seasonal produce. My family celebrates by beautiful garden, but help me save face by never asking about the harvest.
Some day, I tell myself, some day…
So, maybe, I am a gambler.
- Always use a bigger container than you think you need.
- Thinning seedlings always feels a bit cruel, but it must be done.
- Plants in containers need to be consistently watered, and often!
- That being said, plants can drown.
- A healthy garden is its own little ecosystem.
- Plant flowers!
- Don’t kill all your bugs. You’re really going to need some of them.
- Never underestimate the tenacity and perseverance of an armadillo.
- Soil is a living thing!
- Start small.