On spring and growth

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves. – Mahatma Gandhi

Gardening

The calendar says that spring has arrived. The weather here in upstate New York says otherwise. We had a few inches of snow two days after the equinox, so Grandmother Winter is not quite ready to hand over the reins yet.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready.

Ready for some warmer days, ready to have the windows open, and ready to dig in the dirt a bit.

N & I have always lived in apartments, so there’s been a limit to what we can plant. If it doesn’t do well in a pot, then it’s not for us. Our first two places also had tons of shade to contend with – so everything had to be pot-prolific and shade okay. Before we relocated, we were able to use some garden space at my brother-in-law’s house, so we got a little experience in growing things outside the pot realm. But they also lived a half hour from us, which was not conducive to harvesting and weeding during the height of growing season.

The place we are in now has garden plots available for any tenants that want them. Oh man! Do we have lofty plans! We are both so excited to be able to grow some veggies this year! Chard, carrots, beets, patipans, eggplant, tomatoes, beans….. I’d love to plant some medicinal plants, but as we are not planning on staying here for too long, I don’t want to get too attached.

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Last year I finished a 2 1/2 year Herbal Immersion Program through the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.  (It was seriously one of the best things I have ever done for myself.) Not only did it strengthen my knowledge as an herbalist, but I learned tons about plant propagation, soil health, organic pest control… all things that I never knew. The most exciting part were all the projects. Having to grow plants from seed, learning to divide by root cuttings or layering – it was amazing!

It was also beyond frustrating.

I did not have a greenhouse or a heat mat to start seedlings on, and many did not sprout. Once the ones that made it were transferred to pots and hardened off to be outside, there were other issues. We had one of the rainiest summers in a long time, so my plants got overwatered. We had a squirrel who liked to dig in our pots and pull out things. And of course, that limited sunshine that happens on a shady back deck. img_20180901_083828

But I learned. And I took notes. And as my plants grew, so did I. I learned that I can not control the weather. I learned that plants don’t need to stay in one spot on the deck (especially in pots!) – they can be moved to get as much of that elusive sunshine as they can. I learned that the local wildlife appreciates tasty new growth after a long winter as much as the rest of us.

And for everything that did not go as I planned (or wanted), there were plenty of things that went right. My stem cuttings from a friend’s garden took off phenomenally, and they made the drive to NY with us. I invested in a small heat mat to start seedlings indoors. I learned to love the anticipation of waiting for seeds to break through soil. It taught me patience. And resilience. How to go with the punches.

It also reminded me that we are all connected. The more time we take to nurture other living beings, the more it nurtures ourselves.

That spring returns every year and with it, so does our opportunity to regrow and begin anew.

 

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