Rookie Gardener


We attempted our first garden last summer and with my history I would have been ecstatic if I had gotten even a weed to grow.  I have a degree in Biology, which involved multiple botany classes, and I had yet to successfully grow or keep alive anything even close to resembling “botanical”. I have planted and killed outdoor flowers three times in one short summer season, wilted indoor herbs within weeks and spent many long hours nurturing rows and rows of seedling starters indoors in egg cartons with warm lights resulting in little more than a hint of a sprout. I had a lot to learn. I am embarrassed to say I went to buy a pumpkin starter plant and a pot from a local nursery and tried to emphasize to the worker there that I needed a really big pot because I was going to grow a really big pumpkin. I later understood the confused looks from the worker when I remembered; oh yes. Pumpkins grow on vines, not under the soil in big pots. Thank you Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin. So this last summer when we rented a plot in the community garden, I knew I was basically going to have a portion of land that resembled a neon-blinking sign that said “rookie”, surrounded by successful gardeners. I swallowed my pride and we gave it a shot, and I am so glad we did. It turns out that community gardens are full of hard work, fresh air, kind words, sunshine, and plot after plot of gardens laid out that you can copy. And that’s what we did; we copied. I bought all of my starter plants from the local farmer’s market (I was not so optimistic as to attempt anything from seed so early in the game). We fashioned our rows and beds after the plots around us whose owners looked like competent, seasoned gardeners, and we held our breath. The first tendril and growth of a leaf resulted in a jubilant dance around the plot. Three months later and we were bursting with pride and at the seams with fresh summer produce. I learned quite a few helpful bits of information that I’ll be putting into practice as we plan our garden plot for the coming summer.

  1. One zucchini plant will feed your family; two will feed the entire town.
  2. Ornamental kale should be used for ornamental purposes only; our guinea pigs would not even eat it.
  3. Bras are extremely helpful for support when trying to save space and go vertical with your pumpkins.
  4. An hour spent digging in the dirt under the setting sun, breathing in the quiet fresh air, and taking home food to put on the table for dinner is one of the most cherished acts of worship and thankfulness I have been a part of.

This is the blessing and the gift to grow.