Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Forward and GROW

"Like a seed we must plant HOPE and let the sun, soil, rain and time work its processes...we don't know how the harvest will be, but we persevere and adjust as the plant and our lives GROW."
~  Mark James Ventrillo

my best friend mark said this to me one day a few weeks ago when i was struggling with some revelations i had made and yearning for a solution immediately.  with the iPhone i can take a picture of anything that is currently in view on my screen, so I took a photo of his text and now, i see every time i want to "unlock" my phone, to use my phone.  and when i need a reminder, i simply press a button and i remember.

i planted hydrangeas on Easter last year and I struggled with keeping them alive; that was my first year at gardening solo.  i had no clue what i was doing, but i googled and i asked others for help in how to keep my plants grow.  i was told hydrangeas like lots of water and to remember its greek origins - hydor meaning water and angos meaning jar or vessel.  hydrangeas love to be showered in water - it's petals adore it.  well, not only was it my first year in gardening, i was learning how to garden in a city that was built on the swamp and is boiling hot in the summer - how is anyone or anything supposed to be expected to grow in this type of climate?  at some point, the hydrangea was done blossoming, growing and I was sure i would never see it bloom again, but just in case it did, i only trimmed them back and hoped i hadn't killed it, but really, i thought i killed it and i was only keeping some dead branches in a pot.
hydragea coming back!

well, about 2 weeks ago, i discovered that i didn't kill my hydrangea plant!  look, and you'll see, buds are growing.  i didn't kill the hydrangea plant!  i planted hope, kept the plant there, continuing to water it, waiting and hoping, and when i least expected it, growth appeared again!  i've been completely fascinated by this plant ever since i noticed its first growth.

i feel like i've learned more from gardening than i ever expected.  i used to dislike gardening.  my father would make me go outside when all i wanted to do was stay inside and watch television or play video games as a child and most of all, i hated getting my hands in the dirt and seeing all those gross worms and anything else I might find in the ground.  nowi understand that everything has a purpose in the cycle that is growing plants.  worms are really good for the soil and even though they look really slimy and gross, they help increase air and water getting into the soil, and when they eat, they leave behind castings that are a valuable fertilizer.  worms = healthy soil.  who knew?  i didn't know something so ugly could be so good!

and guess what?  i have a love of bees now.  not only do i plant vegetables in my garden, but native flowers that are known to attract bees, and they will in turn, fertilize plants - like tomatoes, they don't just do it on their own, they need to be fertilized, they need bees!  and birds, they're helpful too.  i developed an aversion to birds some years ago, but now, they're so important - they bring seeds from your plants, to other places as well.

now, if only i could get those pesky flies to go away...wait, they help in the system too.  doh!  they act as pollinators as well.  but they make this pesty sound!  well, they also have a tendency to lure some of the "bad" bugs, like aphids, so letting any animal or bug just go at it in your garden area isn't advisable, the environment your garden is in, is just as important as the site of the plant you're trying to nourish - there is a whole world around you to be aware of, not just what is in front of you.

how did lettuce survive thru this?!
i began to clean up my raised garden beds a week or so ago and plant some seeds, hope, for bounty to come in some months time.  would i produce a successful bounty of tomatillos this year?  i'm trying to grow more than one this year (you need at least two or they won't be fertilized and turn from flower to fruit, aka plant sex takes two, just like humans!).  the bulbs i planted in the fall sprung up out of the soil in what seemed like just overnight and when i was examining my garden bed, i found lettuce growing within the cover crop!  my lettuce survived and continued to grow through the very cold winter we had!  how did that happen?  i thought of anything, the lettuce would die!

i am astounded by what i have learned and will continue to learn about gardening and life, in general.  i thought i signed onto learning a skill that had a recipe attached to it and that which I could control, but gardening isn't that at all.  i have to be patient, i have to be slow and deliberate in my actions - whether it is fertilizing, trimming, watering and sustaining and building the environment around which my garden is located, being sensitive, pausing when i don't know and seeking an answer or simply just saying, "i don't know" and waiting for the answer to appear or not appear - like the hydrangeas - I didn't know what would happen, i just waited.  i can't control what will or will not grow, but i can learn     how to do better next time and to go about whatever task i'm doing more slowly to see where i might be missing what to do better or to remove in my steps of gardening.  no one plant or harvest season is the same.  there is no auto-pilot that you can put your plants on, you have to always nourish it with learning and hope.

life in general is like gardening, there isn't one recipe to follow that will get you through everything and allow you to go on auto-pilot at any moment.  you have to continually learn and hope you're learning the right process and if you see you're hitting the same brick wall - like whatever you do your tomatillos are not producing fruit - what can you do differently to produce fruit for your next harvest?  what can you do so as not to trim back too much that it would result in killing your squash plant?  that squash plant may never come back, but you can learn how to do better next time.  and if that squash happened to leave behind some seeds in the soil from the year before or 2 years before and it pops out of the soil and grows in this new season, count yourself very lucky.  it's pretty amazing this gardening and life stuff.  you're continually planting hope and learning how to not only for you, yourself, but the environment around you, to do better - it is a whole ecological system - not just one thing to improve.

karin & mark
i'm working through a lot right now and gardening is probably the best medicine i have, the best therapy i could possibly have to learn how to have patience and be sensitive to my surroundings, but the yoga, acupuncture, massage, talk therapy and all those other things help a lot too - they're the nutrients that feed me and help me to better feed and love the people around me, including the animals and plants and even those pesky flies, too.  i'm confident that as each harvest season passes, i'll do better, produce a larger bounty, kill fewer plants, and i'll still make mistakes here and there, but that's okay, because how else will you learn?  you just have to make sure you're aware and acting with love, honesty and kindness.

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