Lately I've been meeting more and more almost-gardeners--they think about gardening and talk about gardening. Because they’re committed to a healthy lifestyle, they’re paying increasing attention to the food they bring into the house, thanks to the kind of writing Eating Well does so well. They want to slow things down and enjoy time outside working with a small plot of earth, even a few containers filled with potting soil, but they can't quite take the plunge. Yet.
I understand--it is daunting to start a garden. All that digging and planting and weeding and wondering why those bugs are crawling all over everything—who has the time? Who has the know-how? And what do you really get in return—too many zucchini? None at all?
Yes, sometimes your crop will fail. Failure is okay. You learn a lot from it. Sometimes you’ll get too many zucchini, and so you head straight to Eating Well and search through their archives for fabulous recipes. But you also get pleasure and satisfaction from participating mindfully in the wonder of Nature’s cycles. You take time out from the busy demands of work—you feel yourself unwind as you tend to your plants. You teach your children about where their food comes from and how great it is to be outside doing such work. What could be better than picking your own tomatoes, warmed by the sun? Or digging potatoes with a child? Or pulling the sweetest carrots you’ve ever tasted? Or snipping a few fresh herbs from the pot on the balcony?
So really, take the plunge. Slowly is fine. With just a pot or two. Today. There’s plenty of time to grow cucumbers or zucchini, or tomatoes if you buy a nice big bushy plant from the nursery. Plant a few herb seedlings and know you can bring rosemary and lemon verbena and thyme in for the winter. Besides, garden centers are having big sales about now--you can buy a few plants for very little.
I see becoming a gardener a bit like other interests we pursue as we go through life. Like taking up road cycling in your forties ( I did that) or becoming serious with your photography also in your forties (yes, I did that, too). It's never too late, never too early!
Have you just started your first garden this summer? How is it going? What advice do you have for almost-gardeners? I’d love to hear your stories! Tell us what you think below.