I'm a gardening rookie, but for a long time already I have had this dream of a little cabin in the woods with a lot of land where I can grow my own vegetables. This dream is only slowly coming into existence, but my life here in the mountains offers many good possibilities to practice. Last year I already grew some vegetables and herbs in my little garden behind my house. Back then I just tried and sowed and planted according to my knowledge (which was very small). This year I expanded: I upgraded the existing garden bed, dug a new one and filled many pots more with soil for all the herbs and flowers I intended to grow. I had a vision, I had a plan and I was very much determined. But obviously everything didn't go as planned. I learned a lot this year, not only about gardening, but also about myself and life. Here are some of my learning moments:
Patience has never been one of my strengths. Especially when I have a clear picture in my mind. I saw my new garden bed, overgrown with many, many flowers. A little bit wild. A little bit chaotic. But a paradise for the insects. Sunflowers, Poppies, Echinacea, Calendula, Zinnia, Toadflax, Marigolds and Violas. Not one of them grew. (The reason: see below)
Some of my vegetables grew wonderfully, others didn't. Or they didn't when I anticipated them to. Some plants I didn't put in the soil correctly, too close or too far from each other. Not with the right bed partner or in the wrong place. But now I have to wait over six months to make it better the next time. Hence patience is needed as growth needs time.
Letting go of expectations
Interconnected with practicing patience is letting go of expectations. Often I act and I expect a certain result. I love plans and there's nothing wrong with that, but when a plan is so precise that it predetermines everything, there's no space for all the things I don't know yet. And meanwhile I'm as proficient in this game of life that I know that so many things don't go according to plan. So I could just act for the acting's sake without expecting any results. Stay chill and just see.
While gardening this became very obvious to me. I really had a plan and of course everything was different in the end. But this doesn't mean that that's not good. I was very happy with the many, many zucchinis that grew. It was a success when I was able to harvest a strawberry that hadn't perviously been nibbled on. And when the only calendula (of the dozens I sowed) stretched her perfect leaves from the soil and even started to produce flowers, my heart was warmed. Yes, my plan was different: actually I would have preferred to have many more calendulas and strawberries and that not only the zucchini would have grown in abundance, but other vegetables, too. But this year had its own plan and it is good.
Oh you snails... What can I say, I love animals and I would never deliberately hurt a soul. But this year I was almost ready to go get the "snail scissors" like my grandmother does. (I didn't. Instead I collected them by the bucket full, went on a walk and let them free a few steps outside the village.) More than once I joked that all the snails of the village must be here in my garden, because they know exactly that I won't hurt them. There's no other explanation as all the other gardens seemed to be snail-free.
But the snails showed me that many things in life are unpredictable and that my garden is a part of nature. The land where my beds lie doesn't really belong to me, I technically only borrowed it from Mother Nature.
Additionally the snail problem awakened my imagination and inventive genius. I tried all the natural snail repellents in the book and I must say that coffee grounds worked best. Something to keep in mind for next year, when everything will be different again. =)