Watching a garden grow can be an enlightening pastime. All the lessons of life are available and explained to you if you pay attention.
Life moves at its own pace. Life in the garden is directed by Mother Nature, assisted by the loving gardener. Every year is different, the timing, the growth, the harvest and of course the weather. Some years the tiniest signs of growth show early. Other years, like this year, signs of life don’t appear until late in the calendar season. Last year at this time we were harvesting small pumpkins. This year they are just starting to swell. The gardener has to be patient and eagerly watch for signs of the garden awakening and enjoy the abundance of Mother Nature in her own time.
Persistence leads to success: If you don’t succeed the first time, keep trying. Don’t give up through your mistakes you learn the lessons which will springboard you to future successes.
While the cool weather and rain dampened my enthusiasm for being outside digging in the dirt, I waited with anticipation for the tender plants to poke up and greet me with their fresh green leaves and stalks.
I am usually luckless when it comes to starting plants from seed, but this year I pushed through my past frustrations and planted a whole variety of seeds, some favourites, some previously untried and some of the ever frustrating cucumbers. Cucumbers don’t grow for me even when I buy plants from a gardening centre. However, not only did the seeds sprout, they are struggling to survive. I feel a little extra luck was sprinkled on my seeds.
Patty Pans have been hit and miss for me. I spotted these unusual scalloped squashes at a Farmer’s market a few years ago and the following year planted some. When they matured I enjoyed a few of these small sweet squashes fried in butter. The next year they didn’t fare well, and last year I couldn’t find the seeds, anywhere. Believe me, I looked. I kept looking in every seed display I came across and finally, I stumbled upon on a couple of varieties. I purchased 5 or 6 packages, planted them in three spots, two are producing lovely little treats. Just in case the seeds are scarce again, I saved a couple packages for next year.
Build on Past Successes: Every year the Mediterranean garden, which is situated on the south side of the house and is made up of a complement of purchased storage bins, produces more than enough tomatoes and basil for all the tomato sandwiches, sauce and basil vinaigrette dressing to satisfy my family for the whole summer. This year I added onions, cilantro, peppers and summer savoury to the growing garden.
I went on a bean adventure last year and experimented with bush and pole beans. It was exciting to watch the vines twine, the bright flowers, and the purple, yellow, and green beans grow.
I couldn’t wait to plant more this year. Once the weather warmed up I direct sowed double what I did last year.
Be open to inspiration, it can come from unexpected places. A little inspiration can unleash your creativity and expand your repertoire of recipes, spices and favourite plants to grow. A good friend gifted me a “Herbes de Provence” blend she picked up during a summer holiday in France. The savoury flavour inspired me to add Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary and Sage to the Mediterranean Garden.
Not all of the herbs planted came up, but I am confident the blend I make will be delicious.
Adventure builds confidence: One of the planting challenges I accepted this year was to start Echinacea from seed. Over the years my store-bought Purple Cone Flower has diminished, partly due to winter kill and I suspect over-zealous weeding. (oops!).
I have been told that Echinacea is difficult to grow from seed and to transplant.
Hoping to avoid transplant shock to the delicate “plantlings”, I picked up some compostable soup bowls as starter pots. When the Echinacea was old enough and hardened off I plopped the whole kit-n-caboodle directly into the garden.
They are doing so well I am thinking of starter more perennial flowers from seed next year.
Weed, weed and weed some more. Take stock and clear out what is no longer needed. Cull the weeds that are sucking the life out of your plants, the plants that are overgrown, and the one that no longer serves the garden as a whole.
This may mean splitting and separating some of your favourite perennials and moving them to an open spot that has more space or giving them away. The harmful or diseased plants and weeds need to be pulled and discarded. A happy garden needs room to grow and if crowded it will not flourish and thrive.
Reap the Rewards of Helping Out: Pollinating, trees, plants, and flowers falls under the domain of the Bees but sometimes they can’t get to every flower.
My husband helps out with a tiny painters brush. He gently takes the pollen from one flower or from one plant and shares it with the others. It makes him feel good to know he has helped out the bees and his assistance can mean the difference between enjoying zucchini for dinner
or watching the young fruit turn yellow and wither on the vine.
Have fun: Remember whimsy and fun can provide solace when the days are dark. For a splash of colour and just plain fun, I planted Nasturtiums and Cosmos. Their colourful flowers will brighten up any rainy day.
Mother Nature can teach us many of life’s lessons if we take the time to sit quietly in our gardens or by a window with our houseplants. See what you can learn from the cycle of life reflected in the growing garden.
Cheryle – July 20, 2019