Learning to Grow Slow

I am destined to be a gardener.

My grandmother (affectionately known as Granny) can grow absolutely anything.  One year, she threw a rotten potato in an old wheelbarrow – added a little dirt – and from it grew a load of potatoes!  Granny grows everything from tomatoes to rhubarb to asparagus to wild gooseberries.  Many of the plants around my home have originated from her.  She learned to garden because she had to; it was and is an important part of life when you’re feeding a large family on a budget.

My dad is also a grower.  Every spring he has bags full of fresh peas – so much so that he will freeze them and have fresh peas all winter.  In the heat of summer, his garden will produce juicy red tomatoes and tons of cucumbers.  He and my mom stock the abundance of their harvest on the picnic table behind their house – this is a message to friends + family passing by to stop and grab some extra goods.

Green makes me happy!

So with genetics and optimism on my side, I tried a garden last year in my little backyard.  I enlisted my dear husband to build a raised garden box and fill it with dirt.  Bless him.  I called my dad and Granny often to ask questions and get advice.  I diligently studied my Farmer’s Almanac.  It was so fun for me, the whole experience of doing this on my own.

In this garden, I planted the following:

  1. Tomatoes – 6 different varieties
  2. Broccoli
  3. Brussels sprouts
  4. Carrots
  5. Arugula
  6. Jalapeno peppers
  7. Beets
  8. Rhubarb

Of the items above, the following actually made it:

  1. Carrots
  2. Arugula
  3. Beets

For the love.  My family is so good at this but me?  I barely grew enough for a salad.  One salad.

I didn’t think I could fail at this but I did.

Then, somewhere along the way, I found this gem and got a reality check:

While the rest of the world is tidying up and trying to achieve perfection, you and I will be on a different path.

A much richer, simpler, more rooted path.

That is a quote from Lara Casey’s upcoming book, Cultivate.  In not so many words, God spoke to me just as he did Lara and reminded me that sometimes, good things are hard.  Good things are not always instant and are usually never what we expected.

Back to the garden.  I’ve learned a lot and spent a good amount of time with my green-thumb gifted loved ones in the process.  I am so thankful for this bond and their unmatched wisdom. Granny’s expert tip:  Mix one gallon of warm water with one tbsp Epsom salt and water your plants with it once a month.  

I look back now and see things so clearly:  My failed attempt at growing veggies last year taught me the importance of the process and not the product.

Growth doesn’t happen overnight.  Not fruitful growth, at least.  In gardening and in life there’s this process that requires diligence and patience and just plain faith.

  • You start by cultivating your ground.  If you plant in bad dirt, you’re fixin’ to fail (another expert tip from Gran).
  • Next you dig.  You do the hard stuff and get your hands dirty.  You prepare a place for good things to grow.
  • Then you plant.  This can be an anticlimactic step but there is so much to learn here.  A tiny seed with so much potential – its beautiful, really.
  • Now you nurture.  You water your seeds, you eliminate those life-sucking weeds, and you let the sun do it’s job.

This year I have an entirely new perspective on my garden growth.  I am planting less in hopes of harvesting more.  Growing slow is so rewarding.  If you enjoy the process, the product is an added bonus.

Cultivating a joyful garden experience is important to me because I love to be outside and I feel close to my Granny when I am planting things in the dirt.  That is what matters most to me.  Although it took a failed garden attempt to prove it – I am grateful.

Here’s to a fun 2017 garden adventure and (hopefully) one more salad than last year!

Seedlings are started for this year’s garden!

P.S. – I am honored to be on the Book Launch Team for Lara Casey’s upcoming book Cultivate (mentioned above)!  Click here to learn more and order your copy!