In my life, anxiety is a weed that seems to grow rapid. It can feel suffocating at times. When I garden, I begin to slowly pull those weeds of anxiety out one by one. It’s a time where I am allowed to breathe, to heal, and to let go. I allow my garden to be a place where I am the one who set the rules. I become a child, an explorer, and I enjoy every single second I am surrounded those veggies.
My First Garden
My first year of gardening was the summer I was pregnant with my second child. My first born was just over a year old and I had just gone through some pretty serious health issues. I was diagnosed with autoimmune issues where I was told nothing could be done except to be on lifelong medication. From all the information I read, it was hard to get a clear, researched based direction on how to eat while dealing with autoimmune issues. So, I decided to do the one diet nobody would argue with: lots and lots and lots of veggies. So, there is where my garden journey began.
Starting From Seeds
I wanted to eat organically, and mainly vegetables. But, we were on a fixed budget and eating organically seemed so expensive. So what better way to get organic food then to grow it yourself. At 5 months pregnant, I got down in a patch of earth on the side of our house, and I pulled, raked, and cleared out a beautiful, and magical place. That place became my own special garden.
I went to my local Home Depot and bought a ton of seeds! I took recycled egg cartons and filled them with, no not potting soil, but just soil from my own garden and added tomato seeds and pepper seeds. I wanted to try all my favorite vegetables and herbs – spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes of every kind, sweet peas, cilantro, basil, and radishes. I wanted as much as I could fit into my little piece of land!
And let me tell you, I had absolutely no experience, and no idea what I was doing. In fact, I was surprised to hear that many people don’t use seeds and just buy plants. I thought the only way to start was with seeds. Silly me. I had people tell me growing from seeds is too hard, I was too late in the season, and they require lots of sun that I might not have. But the voices didn’t take hold, I didn’t have a lot of expectations, but to give it a try.
I created rows, looking at the back of the seed packets to make sure I was giving enough space between each vegetable and I put the seeds down. I covered them up. I watered them and waited. I didn’t do anything to the earth – no compost, no fertilizer – nothing. That would come in time, but I was just starting out, brand new to this ancient world, and I didn’t want to be boggled down by details and fears. I didn’t want to feel I had to do something a certain way; to know every detail before I began. I wanted I to learn as I went; I wanted to feel free of expectation.
Then they popped– the beautiful green sprouts, emerging up from the dark soil. I couldn’t believe it – they were actually growing! I was playing a hand in creating life – it was an incredible feeling. I weeded when I could, I watered when I remembered. I went out when I wanted to. I was playing by my own rules.
Failures and Successes
That season was magical. Most of my plants did great, but some did not. I got bugs, skinny radishes, and dried up cucumbers. I also had buckets full of tomatoes, endless supply of squash, and made my own salads with my lettuce daily. I learned that thinning isn’t a cruel punishment toward my plants, but a necessity for a quality vegetable. I learned many different ways to use squash. I learned that cucumbers really do need tons of water. I learned that the algae from my Koi Pond made great fertilizer. I learned what it meant to be a partner with God as I worked the land he entrusted me with. That summer I learned more than I could imagine.
Healing While Growing
I healed, I grew, and I fell in love with the amazing way that God created our earth to provide His people with the most beautiful colors of the richest, healthiest, and tastiest food known to man. I felt like I was connected to a practice of old, and with a childlike heart I grew as a person and felt alive in a new way. I learned through failing; I learned through trying, and that summer I became a Gardner.