Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Gardening Epiphany

I am a novice gardener.  I work with great resolve. . . for 10 minutes.  I vow to do better next season, and then I resort, in panic, to the same plants at the same stores.  I don't check for prices, I don't start plants from seeds, I don't know where to begin.  I ask experienced gardeners too many questions and don't retain the answers when I'm in front of my own draggled beds.  I keep a gardening notebook for 2 weeks and then I lose it. 

Pretty:  irises

I envy people with luxuriant gardens, yards, and houseplants, and I buzz around trying to figure out how to copy them.

Pretty: hostas with rain drops

It's true. But it's not going to be the end of the story.

Happy:  the peas are blossoming!  The spinach is big.

Because I suddenly realized today that I used to be an inept cook with all the attendant fear and desperation.  But I'm not anymore. I'm skilled!  I'm the expert!  The inept cooks ask me!

Suddenly I put my gardening ineptitude in context.

Funny:  old shoes of Ben's, waiting for some hen & chicks

I can't remember exactly how I went from incompetence to skills in cooking, but I know it took time and many mistakes.  I did read books and ask questions, but mostly I just kept cooking.

Real: there's dill and parsley there, among the weeds

So be it.  I will learn, over the years, to be a skilled gardener.  Because that's what I want; I could even call it a goal.

I want to have an asparagus patch, a climbing something on my porch, maybe even an espaliered fruit tree.  I am taking heart and continuing on.

Real:  our raspberries - which need. . . something. . . manure?  pruning? what? 
Want to tell me how you became a skilled gardener?  I'm all ears!

(Linking up with Leila and Rosie's collection of everyday contentment.)


loves2spin said...

I have been gardening since1976. Yes. I have. I certainly would not call myself an expert, but I do believe that after persisting for a number of years, you. Just get a feel for it, just like cooking. Someday, someone will ask YOU questions, and you will be amazedat what you know. A wise man once said, "That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not because the nature of the task has change, but because our capacity to accomplish it has increased." Just keep gardening, asking and reading! I am so proud of you!

Lisa said...

Good for you, Margo! I am also embarking on a gardening career, and I am just schlepping along. So far, I've put some mesclun mix seeds and some beet seeds in pots. I have a raised bed I bought last season, and it will probably be ready in time for fall crops. I also began composting! A little at a time.

Good books are very helpful - use your library for that. Some I am finding useful:
Martha Stewart's Gardening, which is a coffee table sort of book, with lots of photos which I find helpful in an inspirational sort of way. Also, read about the lasagna and square foot gardening methods.

Also, the Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook. Gardening from Seed (another M. Stewart one) and
Sugar Snaps and Strawberries.

Also, if you can get hold of a copy through the library, in the Homestead Blessings DVD series, there's a gardening one, which shows how to grow potatoes without any soil(!), and illustrates a very simple looking lasagna gardening technique with cardboard, and layers of grass, hay, leaves, dirt, and manure.

Good luck to you!

Rebecca said...

You just do it. LIke sewing and cooking, there are some tips that make it better/easier but there are *many* ways to reach your goal of beauty and productivity. Dive right in, talk to people and you'll be a GARDENER before you know it.

BLD in MT said...

For the record I do not consider myself a skilled gardener. I know some stuff, but I think it will be a few years more before I add "skilled" to the front of the word gardener.

That said, you NAILED it. It is scary/overwhelming/intimidating to do most anything when you don't know what you're doing. Learning hands on is so much more effective than book learning when it comes to many things, cooking and gardening being two of them. Last year we learned about spinach leaf miners because of a bad infestation. This year we noticed them quite early and destroyed their eggs before they could take over and become a problem. You just have to do it to learn stuff like that.

At my community garden there is a saying "There are a thousand ways to garden right, and only a few ways to really garden wrong." You'll find what works for you.

So good luck as you power on to your gardening goal. Learn lots and have fun! Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Plant by plant. Mistakes and trying again. The notebook will be a big help! Your peas look great.

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Oh Margo.. You are so honest.. I too, am a novice gardener, who in the spring , sets her mind to the beautiful plants, the richley ground soil. Just waiting for me to make it beautiful and then enjoy the pretty flowers and the tasty vegetables..But......... when it gets really hot and humid here in Ms.. I seem to loose my want to..ha.. the weeds keep coming and the want to
But Oh how I love to dream of that skilled/beautifully kept garden..
bty.. all your plants look very healthy and pretty.

Melanie said...

I'm right there with you! Figuring it out as I go, learning from the mistakes, reveling and rejoicing in the successes (and the peas!!).

When I first had the opportunity to have a garden, my wise sister said: I know you - you will try to read everything and ask questions of everyone you know who gardens, and you will be paralyzed and never start. Just start. Just put things in the ground and see what happens.

She was so right :-) I'm still a novice gardener, but I feel like - so similar to my own cooking - I have learned so much so fast! Still so much to learn, but from one raised bed planted pathetically too late last year to a climbing structure, a second raised bed and yet another ground-level bed this year, my gardening skills are growing right along with my garden.

Just like I know yours will!

A said...

Dearest Margo,

As your Favorite Inept Cook, I would like to say, I love this post. I will be revisiting it, as well as the wise comments from your readers.

Deanna Beth said...

Skilled gardener? Maybe. I don't think of myself that way, but whatever skills at gardening I have, I gained against my will in childhood, when did every step of it alongside my parents. I also became a skilled vegetable EATER against my will in childhood as I was made to finish my serving at our brown Formica table. And I became a skilled vegetable CANNER against my will in childhood on the sticky floor of our basement summer kitchen. I'm glad for those skills today.

Margo said...

DB, you grew up with a basement summer kitchen?! Wow, I would love to hear more about that.