My Journey With Nature

“Life begins the day you start a garden” — Chinese Proverb

When I was in 2nd grade I asked my mother if I could grow a vegetable garden. She had talked, from time to time, about her garden on the farm where she grew up. I wanted to grow my own vegetables like my mother.

My mother bought some radish seeds and we made a small vegetable garden plot in our backyard and planted the seeds. Within 2 or 3 days the radish seeds sprouted and within a few weeks, I had my 1st harvest. I’ve had a vegetable garden of some size every year since then. My mother literally planted the seed in my mind and helped me cultivate it. It’s turned into a lifelong endeavor that has given me a great deal of joy and a sense of accomplishment. It also has provided countless bushels of fresh organically-grown vegetables and fruit for me, my family, and friends. Along the way it has also taught me that just like a garden needs to be cultivated to produce the best and most healthy vegetables, our lives need cultivating to be the best we can be and to help others be their best.

Radish plants

Radish Seedlings

When my older sister learned of my vegetable garden she made me aware of organic gardening. She sent me a copy of ‘Organic Gardening’ by Rodale Press and I have been an organic gardener ever since. It just made and makes sense to me. The food we eat should be as pure and healthy as possible, just like the air we breathe and the water we drink. Not just for us either. For all our fellow plants and animals. We all deserve this at the very least.

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” Gertrude Jekyll

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I think the same rules that apply to cultivating a vegetable garden apply to life as well.

  1. A vegetable garden requires constant attention and loving care; so do relationships.
  2. A vegetable garden is dynamic. Its needs change on an almost daily basis. The weather, the soil, (too dry, too wet), weeding, just talking to the plants. I do this. I always have. So are relationships. Their needs change on a daily basis as well and all the things that apply to your garden apply to your relationships. Even if some only metaphorically.
  3. Heading off problems before they become too big. Keeping a good eye on what’s happening in the garden. As I said I talk to the plants on a regular basis and in the process, in a way, they talk back to me. I notice things that are going well and things that are potential problems as I survey the garden and take corrective action when needed. Communication is a key element in any relationship.
  4. Cultivating your garden takes time. It requires a commitment to take the time needed. There are no shortcuts. Taking the time, making the time, is another key element in any relationship.
  5. The rewards make all the effort worth it many times over. A bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables is your reward. There is nothing like a homegrown tomato. There is no price that can be placed on a loving, caring relationship.

Isn’t it funny how a few seeds planted in a seven year’s old mind can sprout into such a bountiful harvest of life’s lessons? My mother certainly knew what she was doing. And I thought I was just planting a few radish seeds in my first vegetable garden.

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