Learning Through Gardening: Basics of the art

In 2006 I officially started gardening. My dad and I came up with a summer project for our family to get along better. We did a gardening competition where everyone divided up into groups and we each got a garden box in his backyard. The garden that did the best would win, but in the end we would all win because we'd have fresh fruits and vegetables. 

I ended up being the only one to keep up all the plots and haven't stopped since. Some years less than others but I discovered something I was really good at. Sometimes my friends and family ask me what my secret is. I’ve been called a green thumb too. But I’ve realized that not much is needed to be a good gardener. Gadgets, tools and fancy decorations help aesthetically but the earth holds everything you need to have a beautiful garden. There are some essential principles that I think I should share.

It’s good to point out I come from a family of agricultores. My grandfather owned land, grew and sold tomatoes for a living for a long time in Colombia.  My father’s family also had terrenos en Mexico antes de terminar en Monterrey Nuevo Leon. As I learn more about my indigenous roots I understand more of my connectedness to the art of growing life. Gardening has been a spiritually uplifting experience that I have used to stay connected to my roots, and my ancestors. I never realized how valuable this art really is, the literal root of life, cultura and familia.

Here’s the things that have been essential for me:

Love for the earth- this specially shows when gathering your harvest, in the way you pull the vegetables or fruit off the bush, tree or vine. If you tear or rip things out the plant is affected. If you step on plants to get to others, or if you tie plants carelessly the plant is affected. Using care and love enables the plant more time and energy to grow instead of wasting time healing itself. Also, looking for friendly ways of protecting your food. For example, releasing ladybugs twice a year on your crop helps control most of the pests. There are other specific remedies for pests such as slugs, aphids, etc. but in our garden ladybugs always do the trick! Poisons come back around, keep them out of your life. 

Respect and care- large fruits and vegetables grow out of healthy soil and plants. Just like people they need food, water and sun. Just like humans they also need consistency, for example you can use a drip irrigation system that drips water all day, or you can water the garden every morning and every afternoon. But if you water every once in a while, or when you remember the crop will reflect that. I think this is one of the most essential secrets of a successful gardener. So maybe it shouldn’t be called a green thumb but a watery thumb! That doesn’t sound as cool though… Treat your plants as friends. Hopefully your a good friend and don't leave your friends hanging when they're expecting you. 

Gratitude- every day we eat and cook vegetables we leave small left over pieces. There are other organic wastes that can be used to compost soil… Soil compost is extremely valuable to plants. Putting prayers into action, say thanks by giving back. The least a gardener can do is save their scraps from the kitchen and return them to the soil. Many people build compost piles in a corner of the garden and just throw in waste periodically, then once a year they disburse it into the soil.  There are other ways to compost for example, burying leftovers right into the soil throughout the winter and spring, (we do this). Usually summer time when the fruit is cropping it’s better to stick to a pile, to ward away undesirable pests, and then when you do the winter clean up mix it into the rest.

I know these tips aren’t the usual list of this and that. But I feel once I learned these gardening principles the rest was learned as I went. One year of a good variety garden that you are committed to can teach so much. As you observe the way nature works and the basic laws that govern it, it also helps you reflect on how life can also become uncomplicated by learning underlying principles and basic laws. At least it did for me. Most important one I’ve learned, if you give, you receive

So... if you give goodness, you will receive goodness back. If you give half done work, you will receive half sized veggies ;-)

Six months to start preparing to have a fruitful garden is good time. I’ll keep posting my ideas and ways I make gardening an essential part of my personal growth until the next planting season. Hope it motivates at least one more person to begin their journey towards getting familiar with the power of the earth. 


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