I started a garden last week. A real one, not just playing with a few containers. This is a big deal for me. I’ve been making attempts at gardening and failing on different levels, for about 5 years now.
In this process, I have learned about growing things. I’ve also learned how closely related growing fruit and vegetables is to producing fruit in life.
Both of my grandmothers were excellent gardeners, but different types. One had the most beautiful flower gardens, the other had a cellar full of the vegetables she had grown and canned.
It seems to me, those whose flower gardens excel have a knack for detail and precision. They appreciate beauty, and tend to be a bit on the perfectionistic side. With flowers you can pick and prod, transplant and fertilize…you seem to have much more control with a flower garden. Flowers haven’t struggled much in my yard.
The biggest trait I’ve found in gardeners of the farming variety, is that they’ve learned to let go. They are relaxed, and trust that what will be, will be. Not that you have much of a choice when your sustenance is dependent on things completely out of your control. Farmers, even of the urban variety, seem to have learned that they are not in control.
I think this is why I’ve struggled with urban farming for so long. I wanted to be in control. I tried to plot and plan, mess and fiddle. Some died, others got rot, then there were the dang aphids. It was a stress to me, that I couldn’t control and fix it. Just like with most of life, I’ve learned that I need to be less focused on the result, and more focused on the process.
I used to hate getting dirt under my fingernails. I would try to wear gloves, which were always bulky and awkward on my munchkin hands. This year I embraced the dirt. I actually enjoyed the texture of it in my hands. It reminded me much of cooking, how you never get a real feel for a dough unless you just get in there with your hands. It’s about feeling your way to success. By feeling the dirt I had a better idea of what I needed to do for it.
After painstakingly filling dozens of little cups with dirt, plopping in teeny tiny seeds and shoveling on more dirt, I enjoyed the gurgle of the hose. Water that rinsed black from under my fingernails and seeped into the ground. Water that cleansed and refreshed. Water that would give life to possibility and potential.
I’m hoping that success in this season of gardening comes from hard fought for lessons in life. All my control and nitpicking doesn’t bring about fruit. The fruit will come when I do the work I’m capable of doing, and then step back and leave the rest up to the one who is capable of doing ALL things. It might flourish, or it may all rot and die, but either way, my messing won’t change what will be. And if my work doesn’t pay off, I’ll know it’s because it wasn’t the season for it. I won’t take failure personal, but will wait for the next season, and try again. Maybe in a different spot, with different seeds, more sun or water, but I won’t quit, I’ll keep pressing on.
We are a process, my garden and I. Both full of potential and hoping to bear much fruit.