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Gardening Lessons | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Gardening Lessons

A single pack of lettuce seeds can provide lots of salad for a family.

What fresh food can you grow this year?

Growing conditions aren’t perfect. Some families garden in containers or rooftops because of sun and soil issues. 

Each year, I plant our garden, with the grudging help of my kids. Living in the middle of town, we have challenges. We’re shifting our garden plot around the shady areas from neighbors’ trees.

The kids do different experiments in the garden each year as part of their 4-H garden projects. When they complain, I tell them the day may come when they need to know how to raise and preserve their own food to survive and if so, I want them to know as much as possible.

What have we learned from gardening?

  • Thomas Edison was right when he said opportunities are dressed in overalls and look like work. They smell like sweat too. Sometimes manure. Good things can come to those willing to work with manure.
  • If we wait for the perfect conditions to start, we’ll never grow a thing. Start with the soil we have and improve it.
  • Hedge your bets – diversify. One year, it was so cold my kids exhibited broccoli at the fair in late July. None of our standby tomatoes, beans, or peppers did a thing. I’ve raised decent broccoli once since.
  • Daily attention & incremental progress yield better results than a flash in the pan, astroturf push.
  • Sometimes, you do everything right, and the weather just isn’t.
  • The unplanted seed doesn’t sprout.
  • The seed eaten by the pesky bird today might just get passed back to the garden tomorrow and sprout. So don’t stress the spilled seeds of today. Instead, focus on cultivating the ones that get planted.
  • There’s always next year.

The best part of a garden is picking food fresh off the vine, eating it, and discovering how much better it tastes than produce at the store. As a mom, I think of the better vitamin content. As a cook, I think how fun it is to experiment at harvest time. And where on earth I’m going to put up this year’s harvest.

Then by this time each winter, I rejoice at how great the freshly frozen corn tastes and savor that home-canned tomato sauce.

Sometimes all it takes to begin is to plant a seed and tend it.

2 Responses to “Gardening Lessons”

  1. Cathy Brown February 12, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Great words of wisdom as always Mary.
    My favorite food quote is, ” Anyone can count the seeds in an apple but only God can count the apples in a seed. “

  2. Linda Hamilton February 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    Wish someone would start a “4-H group for grown-ups” for those adults who grew up in the city, (never having heard of 4-H or fresh produce for that matter) but who want to learn the good old fashioned arts of gardening/harvesting/storage and preparation. I would sign-up in a heartbeat, pay my dues and soak up the information like a sponge, as I am much more of a hands-on, person-to-person learner than I am a read-about-it-and-do-it kind of gal. (Must be the adult ADD in me, hmmmmm???) Any ideas or information of a group like that in our community??

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