Throughout my thirty years of living, I was never motivated to garden. Sure, I had some plants surviving on my balcony, but I never tended to their health, nor did I ever try to sprout any plants on my own. The routine was basic: go to Home Depot, pick a potted or hanging plant, put it somewhere where it looks nice, water it. Inevitably, the plant would die off after a year or so from rude neglect. But, all I had to do was go buy another one.
Today, I see things a lot differently. It’s a relatively new hobby (or obsession) that’s entered my lifestyle: gardening. I see an opportunity to add more life and peace with every seed I plant and every plant I care for. It sounds pretty funky, but I’ve learned to honor them. What I mean is, I try to respect each one’s pace for growing, and I am learning that each plant has its own particular preferences and tendencies. It’s strange that the baby Aloe Vera I’m caring for is, however subtly, much different from its mother.
The mother aloe is hearty, big and stubborn. It keeps wanting to grow near one side of the pot. At first, I thought if I turned it, it would stop growing this way and head for the sun. But, it still likes to lean its own way. No matter how many popsicle sticks, stones or shells I put under it, it forcefully, over time, manages to push its way to this one side of the pot again. The offspring aloe is more obedient, flowing with whatever parameters I set around it. It’s growing up nicely towards the sky.
My family and friends have always encouraged me to try the art of gardening. My friends have given me starter kits for growing a vegetable garden. The aloe plants were a gift from my mother’s garden. These offerings have further taught me how to cultivate. They also yield the fruits of health and skincare–amazing spoonfuls of fresh aloe vera gel, much cheaper and fresher than any other beauty product are a snip away now. While up-keeping aloe is a big accomplishment for me, an even bigger reward arrived when I attempted to grow some wild flowers from seeds.
I started small, buying a box of wild flower seed from the dollar store. I figured, if I can make healthy plants out of dollar store seeds, I can grow anything. I followed the directions on the box and waited. And waited. And waited some more, when suddenly, one day, I came out to the balcony and I saw a school of sprouts had crowded the pot! I definitely instagrammed that sh*t.
I’m currently trying to sprout Spanish pepper, basil and cilantro right now. However, in our new beach place we don’t have a balcony, so for the first time, I’m using window sunlight more than outdoor sunlight. On my days off though, I do take the plants outside into our apartment complex’s courtyard for long baths in the sun.
The process of earning a greenish thumb has taught me lessons that grow beyond the boundaries of pots and seedlings.
5 Reasons You and I Should Garden
1. My patience has improved. By waiting for each plant to come to life, I’ve learned to respect and even appreciate the personal paces of others.
2. I appreciate landscape even more. As the wife of a landscape architect, you can correctly assume, I already did adore gorgeous gardens and free forests, but now with gardening, I have learned about the picky intricacies of plants–how slowly some grow, how maniacally others spread, how some plants simply can’t survive in certain areas. I have gained a much larger perspective regarding the art of landscape. I’m even more impressed that my husband knows so much about where, which and when certain plants will thrive, which ones will get along, which ones are more likely to survive around the chaos of humans. It’s very cool.
3. I realize now that the habit of caring for something is more rewarding than not having anything to care for at all. People are always impressed by my dog, wondering if I hired someone to train her. I am proud to say, I “trained” her myself (if you can call growing into womanhood together “training”). With Ice cream (that’s her name) though, the rewards are immediate. I kiss her forehead, she licks my hand. I take out her food, she wags her tail. I brush her and she relaxes. We go for a run and she motivates me (protects me too).
But with plants–it’s a different story. They don’t stare at me with precious eyes nor do they show me overt signs of appreciation and love. The plant grows silently. The rewards come slowly in the form of vibrant greens, clean energy, improved ambiance and even sometimes sustenance or skincare ingredients. However, getting to tend to them everyday is the reward.
4. I’ve gained confidence. A year ago, I never thought I could ever help a plant flourish. Now that I’ve proven I can, I wonder what other skills I might master (yoga is on the horizon).
5. My diet and mood have improved. The magic of my plants translates into an increased desire to consume more greens, fruits and vegetables. I also prioritize drinking water throughout the day and try to sit or lay out in the sun more. It’s almost as if I want to become a plant myself!
Do you have any good gardening tips for beginners? Or if you’re totally new to the hobby, maybe I might be able to answer some basic questions for you too :). You can now comment with Facebook profile which makes commenting a lot easier. Comment away!
I’m so pleased to announce that three of my poems, “Slots,” “Scraping” and “Make a Decision” have been published in Barking Sycamores Literary Magazine Issue 13. Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project. Barking Sycamores Issue 13
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