Gardening is about learning for me. Being a relative newcomer, I don’t have decades of gardening experience. I research a lot, talk to other gardeners and try to put this into practice. What has been interesting for me is that the lessons aren’t all related to horticulture. The garden has been my teacher in surprising ways.
Growing What You Actually Will Eat
Sounds logical, right? But I often impulsively buy vegetable seed (soybeans anyone?) then receive the packet in the mail and then realise no one in my house will eat this. ‘Work out what you and your family will eat. That’s what you should grow.’ I know this now but I still get lured by the idea of growing something new. And having that idea is great but I should first find out if my family or myself will actually eat the new vegetable. I can do this by buying the new vegetable, eating it and finding out that way. Or grow an heirloom variety of a vegetable that we already eat to satisfy that hankering to grow something new!
Use Your Space and Time Wisely
I amaze myself by trying to grow copious amounts of veggies. Then I get disheartened when the bumper crop doesn’t occur. This happens because I become overwhelmed by trying to maintain a space that is too big. Often I neglect maintenance due to lack of time. A compact space near my kitchen door would be easier to maintain. My time would be used wisely – I could do a quick hand weed when I go out to fill up the water jug. (I have a small rain water tank next to this space.)
I use my space unwisely by growing veggies that just aren’t suited to my patch eg sweet corn. My last two crops that I put in different areas failed. One crop failed due to lack of water – I planted in the worse area for such a thirsty crop. With the other crop, the cobs developed but weren’t sweet. I have learnt from this and I’m grateful that there are local folk that grow sweet corn better than I can! I buy my sweet corn from the farmers market or my local fruit and veg shop.
Appreciating What Is In My Garden
I was washing the dishes the other day. My kitchen window overlooks my garden. So while I was washing away, day dreaming and every now and again gazing out my window, the penny dropped. I often think about what I DON’T have in my garden. Later on that day, I was writing list of herbs that I would like in my garden. It dawned on me how much I DO have in my garden. Many of the herbs on my list I already had growing in my garden! So I decided to celebrate what is already growing in my garden. Appreciate what it gives me now, today. This ties into me trying to change a negative mindset – focus on the positives and look for the joy in everyday moments.
Working With Nature
I’m researching and designing a forest garden. This came about by me looking at my garden and thinking I need to have a better system. What better system to have than using one that has been around forever…nature! Learning the first permaculture principle of Observe and Interact has been useful to me not only in terms of my garden but also in allowing me to slow down in my life and not make impulsive decisions.
Nourishing My Soil
I have been a taker from my garden. Although I know that a healthy soil is the best foundation that your veggie patch can have, I forget to give back. After a while of doing this the veggies will let you know that they aren’t happy in their home. It is time for me to give back to my veggie patch. Healthy soil will equal happy plants.
I have a slow compost heap in a back corner of my garden. I have been adding to this over the years. Recently, I decided to check out what was going on with the heap….at the bottom of the pile was lovely compost. It was crumbly and dark brown. There was a nice earthy smell as I piled this into my wheelbarrow. This compost has now been added to my veggie patch. Using compost is a great way to help create healthy soil by improving its structure as well as attracting those beneficial worms to work their magic.
I have also set up two worm farms in my veggie patch to give back to my soil.
What lessons has your garden taught you? We would love to hear them! Please share in the comments below.
I also enjoyed reading this article, 11 Reasons Why Gardening is the Perfect Metaphor for Life – reasons 4, 5 and 9 are lessons that my garden have taught me.