When I first moved to our current home, I was excited about the yard space. There was an area along the wall in the backyard that was void of anything; a blank canvas just waiting for me to let my vegetation imagination run wild! Now let’s make something clear – I have a brown thumb. However, I loooooove watching things grow, especially things I’ve planted. Gardening relaxes me and places me in the right mood. There’s not much I can think of that puts me in a better place than sitting outside, getting my hands dirty and occasionally sipping a glass of white wine, while soothing music plays in the background.
There’s a problem with my gardening habits, however. After that initial high when the plants first go into the soil, my brown thumb takes over. I quickly forget they still need my attention and you know the result; they eventually dry up or come pretty close. Very often, I’ve been asked why I don’t water my plants. In jest, I reply, ‘I’m training them for the drought.’
So in our new home, I resolved to try a different approach. With flowering plants taking up most of the front and side yard, my Auntie Pat and I decided that that very promising space at the back was ideal for vegetables. So we went and got the plant suckers – cabbage, broccoli, cucumber and cauliflower – and she ‘expertly’ put them in the soil. It was a laborious process, but I had my objective in mind, and we were spurred on by the thought of all the veggies our garden would yield. Pretty soon though, we ran into some trouble.
We had done no research about how to treat these plants and the woman at the nursery hadn’t offered up any information. Along with my poor follow through, their prospects were not very good. Two cucumbers grew from six we planted. And with infrequent watering, their vines quickly dried out, leaving me with 3 inches of yellowing distortion. Suffice it to say they couldn’t be eaten. As the other plants started to grow, we realised they were way too close to each other. They struggled to find the sunlight and were not getting enough air. They became crooked and unsightly, and the leaves began to rot. After a while, I decided to remove some of them (the non-cabbage ones) to allow the others to survive. Instead of throwing them out, however, my husband found some additional space to replant them. My optimism again skyrocketed.
Naturally there was more trouble in this, my garden of woes. Seems the creepy crawlies had their eyes and thieving mouths on the plants I was waiting to consume. Holes appeared in the leaves, along with white stuff which I call ‘plant disease’. Of course there was again watering issues, with leaves turning brown, as I had not quit my brown thumb addiction. I tried, Lord knows. And I was making steady progress, sometimes giving a sad face to prompt my reluctant husband to take over the watering duties. The worst, worst, worst thing though, was it seemed the plants were not really growing. The cabbage leaves appeared too shy to fold into each other. And between the broccoli and cauliflower (I still can’t tell which is which), all that was going on was crooked, mutated bottom parts (or stems maybe?) and leaves. There was no evidence of that bumpy mushroom looking top in either of them.
I have since made a decision not to waste any more time, space or water on these things. There are so many other vegetables I could put in those spaces, which will yield better results. And pleasingly, won’t require too much of my attention. Take scallions for instance. Did you know that when you cut off that bit at the bottom (the part that was in the ground) you can stick it in the earth and it will grow? Yup! So next time, I will have a beautiful , low maintenance garden that actually brings forth produce.
The whole thing made me look at my life though – the things which need my attention and nurturing, but which I don’t pay enough attention to, as well as those things I focus on but which yield no real reward. Of course there’s the lesson to be learnt from doing your research before you venture into anything, rather than relying on the assumed wisdom of the Auntie Pats in your life. How about you? What are the habits you are cultivating? What kind of life are you watering? When insects and other unwanted guests show up in your garden, how do you weed them out? What fruits and veggies are ready to burst forth in the garden of your life?
Where my backyard garden is concerned, as soon as I decide what to replace these weed-like vegetables with, I’m rooting them all out. For now, they’re dead to me!
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.