Everything I Ever Needed to Know about the World, I Learned in My Garden

My first attempt at gardening didn’t look anything like this. It looked more like somebody launched a seed grenade behind my fence, shut the gate, and allowed the chaos of nature to do its handiwork. I referred to it as my Crack Plants. What can I say? I’m from the middle of the Nevada desert and was more like the Grim Reaper of Gardening than Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary – no silver bells or cockle shells up in these here parts.

Still, I soldiered on, subjecting my strawberries to shade, forcing my potatoes and tomatoes to live next to each other (just because plants’ names somewhat rhyme does not make them soul mates), and assuming my pumpkins and squash would play nicely with all the other vegetation and keep their vines to themselves.

Here’s the precious little that I knew beyond doubt: I could grow weeds like nobody’s business – I was a wild woman, a weed-growin’ machine.

You know what it takes to grow a successful garden?

No fear.

As with any venture in this life, a person can’t be afraid to fail and should not allow herself to be defined by her mistakes.

(Tell that to my barely-there broccoli, right?)

Take this to the bank: Failure shortens that learning curve right up. The real failure is in the giving up and the walking away – in believing the delusion that you’re just not good at something and you never will be.

So, I wasn’t Martha Stewart straight out of the gate. So what? I read a book or two and got on Pinterest. The Mormons here took this desert flower under their wings and showed her a trick or two. Most importantly, I was right back at it the following season and the next and the next and the next.

Your garden will teach you what you need to know in this life if you listen to her. Aside from all that, it’s just plain fun to dig around in the dirt.

Did I know what the heck I was doing before I grew Brussels sprouts? Nope. I didn’t even know if I liked them so, of course, I grew five plants. Had no clue the sprouts grew on the stems – I kept looking at the top, waiting for the little buggers to pop out. They never came. I kept peeking into the leaves and couldn’t figure out why these guys were almost three feet tall with nothing to show for it. Finally, my girlfriend told me to look down the side. By God, there they were! I harvested those suckers like a BOSS!

Grim Reaper of Gardening

The Grim Reaper of Gardening

My gardens started to grow as amazingly as my crazy mad skills. Eventually she started to produce a bit of wisdom in me.

Gardening helps you to have faith and to see beyond. Even though you know you won’t see anything stick its head up out of the ground for several days, it won’t stop you from running out every morning and surveying the land. Somewhere deep down you know what each seed will become, and you wouldn’t dare to miss the moment their faces touch the sunshine. You know in your knower something will be making an appearance soon.

Gardening boosts your confidence. Just one bite of fresh, organic produce on the tip of your tongue, and you’ll know you have conquered the world. Once you get the hang of this, you won’t be able to keep it to yourself. You will be the queen (or king) of the culdesac going door to door with bags of lettuce and pounds of peas, making new friends. Their gratitude will make you feel like a Power Puff Girl (or Boy), and it will be confirmed in your heart what you knew all along: you are Martha Stewart incarnate.

Gardening produces patience. No immediate gratification here, folks. You have to wait. If you pull fruit or veggies too soon, you will not receive the reward you seek. Lord knows that’s too much darn work to go to waste.

Gardening teaches you about commitment. You want to go on vacation? You have fun. Just tell me who’s going to water and weed your garden before you go? These are the things you have to worry about since that garden depends on you.

Gardening gives you a sense of accomplishment. Six plastic salad bowls full of tomatoes will make you the happiest soul on the planet. A freezer full of berries, syrup- and jam-ready along with potato soup and spaghetti sauce? You’re good to go for the entire winter and so are many of your friends and neighbors.

Gardening instills in you self-reliance and independence. There’s something about being able to feed yourself, you know?

Gardening makes you brave. All this gives you a sense of ownership and turns you into an overprotective force to be reckoned with. You will not go gentle into the night when the howling wind plucks you from sleep; you’ll race from your house to anchor galvanized pails over your new seedlings without so much as slipping on your slippers. You will wage war on worms and battle bugs you’ve never heard of. You’ll stick the garden hose in one gopher hole and stand over the other with a white-knuckled vice grip on the Rodent Shovel of Death. You will be shocked at what you are willing to do.

Gardening shows you how to let go. You won’t conquer every storm, every enemy. You won’t. Fruit will die on the vine, and you will anguish its loss in your heart. There will be hail. Don’t even get me started on the abomination that is hail. Never again will you be out in the garden and think to yourself, What a sweet little butterfly. It’s not a butterfly. It’s a moth, and they lay eggs in your cabbage. They are the devil. You cannot beat them. But at the end of each season, know that your garden will produce more than you can eat, more than you can give away, and you will be grateful for God’s provision and bounty. You will have given away more food and more blessings than you ever thought possible. You will be a vessel of abundance. And your heart will be full.

HeadshotDaisy writes every Saturday on her blog, daisyrainmartin.com. She is also the founder and editor of RAIN Magazine, a magazine that both promotes up-and-coming authors and raises funds for select charities.

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  • Tony Olivito

    Thank Daisy, great little lesson! I used to play in the backyard as a young boy while my grandmother tended her beautiful orchids, shrubs and garden. I learned so much from what, when and how she did things in that space. The patience, love and commitment it took her to have that beauty and bounty is a lesson I will never forget.

    • Daisy Rain Martin

      The best lessons we ever learn come from our grandmothers. It’s great to hear from you, Tony! Hope you’re doing great!