Our first garden happened on accident. We put in a privacy fence in the fall and when we were finished, we propped an extra panel against the fence. Sometime in the winter it blew over leaving a perfect 6'x8' bare spot in the yard. Instead of planting grass, we planted vegetables. That was probably fifteen years ago and we’ve planted a garden ever since.
Now that the kids are involved, gardening (and especially planting day) is much more fun. The kids get to go to the store and pick out plants. This year was even more exciting because it was the first time they’d been out in public since the middle of March. We masked up and headed over to the garden center. Gardening requires three things: planning, starting, and follow through. Before you think we’re experts, let me assure you we fail in on or more of these steps every year.
We like to plan the garden. We usually start with a salsa recipe. So, we plant tomatoes, onions, pepper, and herbs. Those are the veggies we have the most luck with. Then, we use the side of the house for a couple of varieties of squash. This is always the plan. Salsa plus squash. But, like I said, we often fail at one of the steps. The way we fail at planning is we get to the garden center and everything looks like so much fun. We get one of those huge flatbed carts and start loading it up. Potatoes? Yum. Grab those. Rhubarb? I love rhubarb. We need at least one of those. They have seeds? Let’s plant seeds! And, and, and…. Suddenly our rather small garden is going to be too crowded to grow anything.
Life is like that. One thing I’ve heard over and over again in this time of staying home is that people don’t miss being busy. They don’t miss having every evening and weekend filled with activities. There are a lot of things I’ve missed in the past few months, but being busy certainly isn’t one of them. And just like our overcrowded garden, our lives are packed with activities. Instead of making intentional decisions that are right for our families, we fill up our time and run our kids ragged creating an environment where they can’t grow.
A garden isn’t a garden until it’s planted. In our house, planting day comes with a lot of excitement, traditions, and back-breaking work. We sweat and get muddy. We clear away dead plants and creeping grass. We put down topsoil and lay the tender plants inside. At the end of the day, we have hamburgers or hotdogs on the grill and can barley lift our arms to eat. It feels wonderful. Until the next day. I’ve never woken up the day after planting without real concerns about being stuck in bed for the rest of my life. But, believe it or not, we’ve actually failed at this step before too. We get to the end of the day and plan to plant the squash or something else later, only to find our plants in a few weeks still in the plastic container all dried up and forgotten.
On my bookshelves I have books I bought at full price and never read the first page. I have journals with only blank pages. I have craft supplies…well, I think you’re seeing the trend. Often times, the most fun part of a project is shopping for the things you’ll need. So, it’s no wonder our dreams often don’t get off the ground. I’ve spent enough time looking at buy, sell, trade, sites to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.
The last step in a successful garden is all the rest of the days of the summer and early fall. If a garden only needed to be planted, we all be gardeners. But it’s not that easy. Gardening takes weekly, sometimes daily attention from weeding to harvesting, to feeding and watering. It’s a lot of work. And, unlike those cool weekends in the early spring, spending time in the garden in mid August is murder. It’s hot and humid and suddenly, you realize you haven't checked your plants in weeks and you have no idea if there are any good veggies in the jungle that has formed around them.
If I’m honest, this is the step where most of my plans fizzle out. I love to plan things and I’m pretty good at starting things, but I struggle with follow through. I don't even have to give examples for this one because I know you have them. There are things in your life that fizzled out even with good planning and a good start.
In many cases, it doesn’t much matter. Maybe it was good to let such and such go to make room for something more significant. But what about when the thing we’re quitting on or failing to plan for is significant? I don’t know what that is for you. But maybe it’s a relationship you’ve let fall apart. Maybe it’s your marriage. Maybe it’s your faith. Would you do something for me? Think through the things that are really important and take a little diagnostic. Where do you need to do more planning? Where do you need to stop putting things off and just start? Where do you need to dig through the jungle of weeds and find life inside?
I hope this time of waiting has helped you see what really matters in life. And that those things require planning, starting, and follow through. Prioritizing may mean putting other things aside, getting kind of muddy, and cause really sore muscles, but that’s okay. Like a beautiful garden, some things are worth all that.