How gardening teaches patience
Maria Rodale reflects on gardening and how some things just can’t be rushed.
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 at 04:35 PM
The other day I was weeding my asparagus patch. Asparagus takes three years to get going enough for you to start eating it. The first year you plant asparagus, it takes its good old time getting going, and you have to fight the weeds and mulch like crazy. The second year, the asparagus gets a little bigger, but you still can’t eat it, and you have to fight the weeds and mulch like crazy. Apparently, after the third year, you can start to eat it. But I’m not quite sure because mine is only two years old.
No matter how old my asparagus patch is I think I will have to fight the weeds and mulch like crazy. BUT, I’ll have my own in-season, local, organic asparagus. For two to three weeks in early spring we will eat asparagus day and night, broiled and in omelets and in salads, and get slightly sick of it and the smell of our asparagus pee, and then we will have to wait. Again. For another year.
The thing about gardening is that you realize you can’t rush things. A seed takes a certain amount of time to sprout, no matter what you do. A plant or tree takes a certain amount of time to grow, flower, or bear fruit, no matter what you do. No amount of chemicals or technology can make it go faster. And that’s totally OK! Can you imagine? That there is still something in our world today we can’t force to go faster? Crazy! Crazy good.
Even weeding is a good teacher of patience. It’s always intimidating to look at a giant patch of weeds and realize that it’s up to you to take them out. Sure, go ahead and spray some Roundup—poison the planet and your children (born or unborn). But you are missing the best part of weeding! Here is what I do: I take a blanket and a basket, and I get comfortable sitting on the ground. I time it so that it’s either early or late in the day, and preferably in the shade, and I start at one end and keep going (moving the blanket along with me) until I am done.
What’s so great about that? Well, for one thing, you start to see your garden up close. It’s amazing all the living things you come across. You notice plants that weren’t there before, and you can decide to let some stay just for fun. But most important, you have time to think. Time to let your mind wander while your hands are busy. Suddenly, you have ideas, insights, happy thoughts, resolution to problems. So when the weeding is done, not only do you have a great sense of accomplishment and your garden looks tons better, but your mind has been weeded too. That just can’t be rushed.
And don’t forget to mulch! Because as much as weeding is a good thing that teaches patience, we gardeners know we don’t want to have to do it too often.