This is the first year in my life I've grown my own food.
Forty-one years on this planet as a non-gardening, buy-everything-from-the-grocery-store kinda gal. Now that I've joined the gardening camp, I'm like, crap what took me so long?!
And of course since it's our first year, our harvests are relatively small.
A few tears of lettuce, a snip of green onion, a small cutting of thyme or peppermint.
What's even more interesting than my lack of Little House on the Prairie homesteading abilities is how quickly I evolved from being a super stoked first time gardener to 'wanting more.'
Screw you Instagram.
If I didn't have access to social media and everyone else's gorgeous lush gardens, would that still be the case? I'm like, wait, she has 20 garden beds overflowing with veggies, flowers, AND cool twinkle fairy lights at night! We have a garden bed of ONE, aphids galore, and I'm praying I get a cucumber.
When is enough, enough? I scolded myself for having garden envy and sat back to reflect on the absurdity that is comparison fatigue, and let out a chuckle.
Social media has a way of unearthing these emotions in us, doesn't it?
In all seriousness, it's significant enough that some folks go off social media all together, and I totally get and respect that. For me personally social media and community building is too valuable a tool to abandon all together. Instead, I do my best to set boundaries and have regular pep talks with myself about the type of content I'm choosing to ingest and my goals for being on various platforms.
And block the haters without looking back!
So let's get back to the topic at hand, the three reasons we should celebrate a humble harvest!
Whether you're growing tomatoes in your windowsill or you sprinkled wildflower seeds in your front lawn for the pollinators, you took the leap into the unknown that is plant life, and we reap what we sow!
I relate gardening to buying a new car.
When you're shopping for a new Jeep, all you start to see on the road are Jeeps. Then you start to notice all of the different colors, the unique models and features and suddenly you know more about Jeeps than you ever imagined, but you're stoked!
For me, gardening is a similar experience except that I feel like there is a lifetime of learning ahead, which is the most exciting part, and it's definitely the opposite of a depreciating asset :)
It's easy to avoid starting something new for fear of failure.
I'm admittedly on that path right now with gardening and I'll give you an example.
Most of the folks I follow on Instagram are growing their food from seed. Damn, that's impressive. I am still in the 'starter' phase, meaning I'm buying small plants from the nursery that are already "started" and planting them in the garden.
For me, I had to start with breadcrumbs as I entered into the world of gardening.
So, where is a good place to start if you want to have a growth mindset and dip your toe into gardening but don't know where to start?
Well, for me personally I started by walking the aisles at our local nursery.
In my head I practiced plant recognition, recognizing a tomato plant / leaf without having to reference the tag hanging above it. I still do this practice because I certainly don't know all the plants or herbs, so I learn something new every time I walk the aisles. A nursery is a walking library of awesomeness, and don't forget to talk to the local gardening folks, they are a host of knowledge!
Lastly, as you are dipping your toe, surround yourself with people who are willing to teach and share wisdom, otherwise it's really easy to feel overwhelmed on this journey! You can start by joining our gardening /urban farming community on Instagram, we will gladly welcome you in!
Know that some plants are going to die.
In my opinion, it's the dying or dead ones that usually have the most valuable lessons. Now I'm not saying to neglect your garden and let everything die, but let's be honest, when we see a pest taking over our tomatoes they get our full attention and we dive into all the things, and learn what to do for next time.
We tend to share our failures more than our successes, (relate?), so along the way we end up teaching others and sharing a bit of our wisdom too.
Gardening is an imperfect practice and humans aren't on this planet to master nature. Nature holds valuable lessons for us and keeps us humble at the same time, so remember that when you're trying to control the outcome.
Reason #4, bonus reason and maybe one of the most important reasons, gardening is good for the planet. There are a lot of stats out there on food waste, it's constantly changing and it's significant.
When you have your own garden, food waste lowers significantly because we're only harvesting exactly what we need for that meal, and any scraps are typically going right back into your own compost.
Raise your hand if you've bought a plastic bin of lettuce, trying to be all healthy and most of it ends up going bad. I can count that more times than I'd like to admit.
Gardening has a snowball effect, mostly in a positive direction. You start with your first pepper plant and the next thing you know you're a composting queen, you're planting for biodiversity, you have chickens and you're no longer shaving your armpits.
Ok, maybe not that last part, to each his/her/their own but you get the picture.
If you haven't yet started, let's do this together! TRUST me people, if I can do it, you can do it. Be sure to join our email newsletter for more journal entires like this one to keep you encouraged and inspired.
And if you're in the early stages of gardening but feeling discouraged, remember...
A small harvest is still a harvest and something to be excited about!
We don't have to post 100 tomatoes perfectly arranged in one Instagram post, one beautiful tomato is enough!