Peace in the Dirt: Gardening is life and vice versa
They say you need three hobbies: one to keep you fit, one you just enjoy and one that makes you money. I'd like to think I have combined all three into one.
I love to garden. God talks to me in there in ways beyond words, showing practical things about life as I work. Three dimensional lessons tend to make us see how something is true and then we believe it more, or at least more quickly. This is why I love gardening: it makes me see how stuff in other areas of life will work if I do certain things, or how they won't work if I don't. Gardening is like a microcosm of the human experience. Plus, it creates beauty, and I'm a real sucker for beauty.
That's why I'm writing Peace in the Dirt. It's going to be simple and straightforward, like gardening is. I'll describe my tricks and tips and whole mode of operation that's been honed and refined over about twenty years of successfully tending plants from seed to harvest, so maybe the reader will glean a little extra few nuggets of wisdom to apply right away (making this book worth the cost of admission, and my hobby lucrative after all). On another level, I'll include the insights for living that I've gained from my sessions with God as I've worked alongside my Father the Master Gardener, and I hope those bless the reader too.
I'm writing this intro after a day of digging spring dirt with a shovel, tilling it to fine bits, then planting about 50 bulbs and over 100 seeds. I'm exhausted and my back hurts like the dickens, but it's the same as the first day of planting every year and it's fine, all part of the fun. Besides, it's the part that makes gardening qualify as a hobby that keeps me fit, so I'll refrain from complaining.
Except when I have to bend over.
Tips from the first day of planting:
Play music. It gives you momentum you wouldn't have had otherwise, and puts your mind in a good place as you work. You'll work faster and more efficiently when you're dancing a little bit. Plus, plants love music. They actually grow better in an atmosphere filled with pleasant sounds.
Digging can be fun! Let it show you how mighty you can be; let it get your stress out and make you sweat. Work shows you are not a sissy. That's a good thing. Enjoy it.
Have the right tools ready when you start to dig. A good shovel and hand trowel will get you started, but an electric tiller and some landscape edging will take things to a new level like a dream. Know what you're going to need before you start and throw some cash down for it-- don't skimp if you can help it.
Have a good plan. Know where you'll want to place things by drawing it all out on a map before digging day. (This will help you remember where you put things later, too.) Use colored pencils or markers for fun and bonus points.
Some plants don't like each other. Research first! Others love each other so much they make each other taste better. Much more on companion planting later.
Be mindful of this above all else: what is now small will get waaaaaaay bigger later, so read about your plant to find out its normal full growth size and add inches around it so you can harvest or simply enjoy it months later. You must resist the urge to plant little things in a cozy bunch, even though it's hard. Believe the planting guides, even though when you do, your garden looks super weak at first. Don't despise small beginnings! Leave growing room.
What you plant was designed to grow, and with the right conditions it will. Take into account the hours of sun your plant requires, how much water, the kind of soil I needs (and don't think that doesn't matter! It so does.) Paying attention to the nature of your plant and giving it what it needs instead of thinking it's a bad plant or you're a bad plant mom/dad can make or break the experience for both of you. Nature is a much more powerful determinant than nurture in the garden.
As you plant, the plan may need to change as your hands get dirty and reality develops. Once you get into the space, more plants may be in order or moving some to another area might be best. Things become obvious when you look at them rationally and look into the future a little bit, based on what you've learned in your research about how the plant will look when it's fully mature. Be willing to flex and adjust the plan as you go, always okay with compromising what you want to account for what the plants need too. Remember: you're forming a relationship with a living thing. "Organically grown" means more than no-pesticides; it also means being flexible and ready for what develops.
Get the rocks and clods out of your shoes/boots right away. Don't leave them in there because you're busy, letting them keep annoying and bothering and hurting you as you work. Stop and take them out of the picture and go on without them there. Your story will go so much better with those gone. (Same goes for annoying people and situations. Confront them or remove them right away so your future can go on without them. You can bet there will be more later, but by dealing with each of them sooner than later you're saving your walk more than you know.) Believe it or not, those little pebbles that were just annoying at first will leave bruises that stay for a week. Take it from someone who kept ignoring something today and is paying for it now with every step...