Gardening and Herbalism

Gardening and Growing a Life

Last year I learned how helpful it is to belong to a community of writers, and decided to apply this wisdom to my gardening as well. I recommend such groups for whatever interests you have, especially if your friends and family do not share your passion. You can spare yourself their glaze-eyed looks and desperate excuses to run away from you. 

The Harvest Club community I joined includes people in warmer climates and those with weather like mine who are passionate about cold frames, greenhouses, and indoor garden setups. The topic for our November meeting was “End-of-Year Crop Evaluation.” Although the evaluation questions center around gardening, they can be modified for any interest or goal.

End-of-Year Evaluation

  1. What did you grow, and what issues (if any) did you experience with that crop?
  2. In what ways was your garden successful this year? 
  3. How did you feel about your gardens and gardening time? Even if you were happy with your harvests, was there anything missing from your experience? For example: I wish I had a comfortable spot to sit in my garden, more flowers, and taller raised beds.
  4. Based on what you wrote in #3 above, record three things you want to do next season to bring more joy to your garden experience. 
  5. List three adjustments you can make to improve the richness of your soil and your garden’s health. 
  6. Month-by-month, what do you want to do differently next year to move closer to the garden you dream of. To avoid overwhelm, prioritize. List only a few tasks that will bring the results most important to you.  

Enjoying All Stages of Your Journey

microgreens

How you perceive your progress towards a goal or dream will affect both your happiness and your ability to do the work required. To help you along the way, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Remember Where You Started

So often when we have a goal we see only two points on our path: 1.) Where I am now, and 2.) Where I want to be. With that mindset, any mistakes made along the way become moments we believe we’ve lost ground, stepped off the path, or (worst of all) we decide it’s useless to even continue.

There is another point on the path I want to keep in mind: the place where I started. From that vantage point, I see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned.

The truth is mistakes, failures (or whatever you want to call them), are a necessary part of the journey.

Be Aware of Your Perspective

dog in corn field

I hate it when people say, You just need to change your attitude. Still, I know the tone of my thoughts matters. I may not be able to go from depression to unicorns, but I can get myself back to a mood and energy level where I’m able to do what’s important to me.   

Many of my goals are lifelong endeavors, so it’s important to make the work enjoyable. If I have a dream that requires me to do tasks that fill me with dread, I need to rethink my goal. 

Clarification on dread versus fear: Fear slows me down, but it doesn’t stop me. It carries thoughts like I don’t know how to do this or I might look foolish. To get past fear may require research, asking for help, or counting to three and taking a leap. While dread carries thoughts like I don’t want to do this now or ever!

Think About How You Want to Feel

dog in the woods

When we envision ourselves accomplishing a goal or reaching a dream, we often image how we’ll feel and how our life will change. Yet, there’s no guarantee any of what we imagine will arrive when we meet our goal. 

I don’t want to base my happiness on something that is currently out of reach. I want to live in a way where my daily experience includes things I feel good about doing. On days when I can’t identify what those good things are (it happens), I call to mind a time when my gardening or writing was memorably fun, life giving, or rewarding—when I was in the zone, so to speak. What was I doing? Was it the finished result that made me feel good? Was it who I was with or where I was? Was it the music playlist I was listening to? 

Sometimes just remembering the feeling brings it back and re-energizes my work. Maybe that will work for you as well.

My Indoor Gardening Status

examining kale with magnifying glass

My kale and chard were looking good, and I was excited to do my first harvest, but after picking the largest leaves, I inspected them with my 10X magnifying glass and discovered the bane of my indoor gardening existence… APHIDS! I salvaged the leaves I could and tossed out the rest. Discouraging… but I’m not giving up yet!

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kale
Photo by Kiona Lee on Unsplash

A Bit of Kale Folklore1

On the eve of Halloween, in days gone by, Scottish girls and boys snuck into kale patches at midnight, pulled clumps of kale, and hung them above their bedroom doors overnight. The following day, the youths examined the kale to predict their future love prospects. Longer leaves meant a tall husband or wife. A black core warned of a bad tempered future spouse. The more dirt on the kale, the richer your spouse would be. Perhaps this is where we get the saying “filthy rich.”

1 Rachel, Diana; Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween; Llewellyn; Sept. 8, 2015

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