This post is part of Cindy’s Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Club for chapter 6 on gardening.
Gardening is a hobby that I enjoy but am not very good at. Moreover, I don’t spend near the time required to become very good.
I love vegetable and berry gardening, and I would love to have a garden for cut-flowers (I’ve tried, but not gotten anything to take yet), but mine is not the well-cared-for, beautiful, thoughtful plot. Mine is a toss-the-seeds-out one day when a planting fit takes me.
I let the sprinklers (Ah! Overhead watering! Irrigation water full of weed seeds! — not at all the right way) do their thing in automated glory. I get out and weed when I can, which is about a quarter of the time I should.
Having boxes with grass between them (spaced widely apart enough that the riding lawnmower trims the “paths”) helped with this inadequate weeding so much! It’s much more manageable to weed a 3×6 box than a large plot of bare dirt.
Then we take what comes, and it’s always a surprise and adventure, not a well-crafted endeavor. Some plants die from wind or cold or heat or gophers or bugs. Some go crazy, even though I don’t really fertilize. Enough of the produce tastes amazing, so we keep going, but some years some just isn’t worth eating. Two years ago the fresh green beans were amazing! Last year, they were bland and woody. This year’s crop is just now sprouting, so we’ll see what we get.
Of course there are things I could do to cultivate and help along those results and get more consistency and more productivity and more beauty, but now is not the time in life for all that.
The toss-it-out and see-what-happens approach is the only way gardening is going to be a part of our life right now. And, honestly, I love seeing the magic of the process.
The first garden I tried, I planted seeds in the cleared and amended dirt. I watered. I waited. And when I first saw little sprouts poking up from the ground, I was so amazed and thrilled! That moment helped me see and understand the difference between theoretical or analytical knowledge and poetic knowledge. Before that, I knew in my head how it worked, but the utter amazement I experienced when I saw it showed me that I didn’t really know it until then. And, that euphoric thrill hooked me. Now, even when the kohlrabi gets mildew and is disgusting to pull or the cucumber plants get pulled under by the gophers or the green beans are tough because I didn’t pick them in time, still, I love to have plants out there just to see the process and experience the magic of this world and dirt that God made.
Before having a garden, I didn’t really understand what “cultivate” meant in that in-the-bones, in-the-flesh way. How much I care for those plants does directly affect their health and growth and productivity. Stewarding is man’s calling, and the garden teaches me what that means. We are God’s vineyard, His garden, and he cultivates us, as well. And we, in turn, cultivate what He has given us. And, thankfully, His common grace is still found in the soil, in the world. Even my inadequate and feeble attempts still yield fruit, which is clearly all by grace and not by my own perfections.
Having a garden with lettuce or peas or tomatoes also gives me an excuse to head outside during the hectic, chaotic hour before dinner. “I’m going to go get a salad.” And then, for 3 minutes or so, there is silence and peace and fresh air and green and sun and I can catch my breath and clear my head and enter the fray again restored, even after just a minute or two (ok, or ten or fifteen — weeding the garden is most attractive at this point of the day!).
Edith’s commentary is true:
To come to a place where one is really wanting to ‘die’ to self and ambition, to come to a place of seeming to ‘lose’ one’s life by handing it over to God’s plan is, it seems to me, more vivid for a person living in the setting of the seed-plant-fruit process, rather than always in the midst of the mechanical machine processes.
So I will continue to be happy in my slipshod gardening, persevering even in the imperfection and the bad gardening practices, because it is a good thing, a good thing worth doing badly.