A couple of weeks ago I tried to get three different seeds started. As of today, none of them have taken off. Nothing green at all. Yeah, I’m kind of bummed. All of this snow on the ground (we got about a food) is making me lust after green things. But it’s important to note that although this is disappointing, it doesn’t shake my resolve whatsoever. The fact is, I have learned one pretty important thing over my years of attempted gardening, and that is that failure tends to happen an awful lot. Gardening is not just a matter of placing seeds in dirt and crossing your fingers. It’s an art, and each seed, each plant, requires you to use a different set of tools to make it thrive.
I think this facet of gardening is what turns a lot of people off. It’s bad enough that you have to wait for something to happen in this era of instant gratification. The idea that a lot of the stuff you plant will just simply never come to anything does not sound like a great motivation to even bother trying. There are farmers, farmers’ markets, and worst case scenario, you can just get your damned carrots at the grocery store. Pulling them out of the dirt doesn’t mean THAT much.
All of that is part of what makes me love gardening so much. Sure, a lot of things may not work out. Last summer was one of my worst gardening summers ever. One plant grew a bunch of tomatoes but they all had rust on them. My other tomato plants got tons of flowers but never grew fruit. My peppers…I can’t even explain what they did. And my zucchini plant grew one little zucchini and that was it. However, I have had successful efforts, and those make all of the tries worth it. Deciding that you want some basil with your pasta and just walking outside to cut some is intensely rewarding for me. Knowing that you helped make that basil happen makes it all the better. Every failure that you get in gardening reminds you that anything that goes right is truly miraculous.
Gardening is a risky business, as is anything that has to do with life. It might not work. Your lettuce might bolt, you might get weird destructive bugs, the weather might be too dry or too wet, too hot or too cold. But all of these risks apply to any kind of relationship with living organisms. People continue to have kids even though so much can go wrong. But so much can go right. People adopt dogs and cats and rabbits and gerbils, knowing from the start that these animals will live in our hearts but won’t be alive as long as we would like them to live. But we care for them anyway, even with all of the risks inherent in that venture.
Failures do not turn me off from gardening. They are chances to learn, chances to do better. My friends at Tyrant Farms told me that I need to put more soil in the pots I’m using, so I am going to try that. Another friend suggested maybe I start the seeds in more of a starter kit versus the actual pot. I’m thinking I might go that route. There are lots of other things to try. Maybe my location for the plants isn’t great. Maybe I watered too much or too little. But I know that eventually I will be successful, and that food will taste so extra good because I will know what it took to make it grow.
If you are thinking gardening isn’t for you just because you don’t have that magical green thumb, don’t hold yourself back. Give it a try. And then give it another try. Have fun with it. I’ll bet you catch the gardening bug!