Learning Life Lessons through Gardening

Learning to distinguish the good from the bad.

Two Life Lessons learnt, tried and tested:
1. You can’t leave your vegetable garden at the start of spring, come back after 2 months and expect an abundant harvest. Weeds, although not all bad but being the pioneers that they are, will prevail, thankfully along with the established perennials.
2. Life and relationships are much like a garden. It needs TLC, time, discipline, enjoyment, balance, reflection and much more.

While the definition of weeds is usually derogatory, it is not entirely accurate. Weeds are also known as pioneer plants, that will move into disturbed soil in order to cover bare ground as natures way of preventing soil erosion. Although they compete with your vegetables for nutrients and water, weeds can also be used for mulching and composting, and eating. Some, like dandelions, have leaves that are high in Vitamin C and weeds are fast becoming a popular slow food trend Therefore not all is doom and gloom but always remember: 1 year of seeds = 7 years of weeds!

Weeding, while a chore, can be quite satisfying. When you find the core root of a weed and pull it out, you may often find that what looked like a number of plants spread out, was in fact only one with many offshoots and the whole area is miraculously cleared with one pull. If you do not get the whole root out though, or happen to cover the weeds with compost and mulch, what might be hidden from site for a while will find eventually only come back stronger. So out of sight does not mean gone!

This got me thinking about life and what are my useless ‘weeds’? Things that are just there and sometimes not even visible but do not really make any positive contribution. They may even look attractive and pretty, but do they really play a positive part in helping me to be the person that God intended me to be. Only I can make that decision, to be honest and teachable with myself and others on what my ‘weeds’ are. It may be friends, who constantly leach me or knock me down. It may be a vice like smoking or over-indulgence, lack of exercise or self-discipline. It could be bad language, laziness, anything that does not help me to be the best that God created me to be. And the fact of the matter is that only I can make the choice as to whether to change this or not. Do I allow these ‘weeds’ to smother and drain the more fruitful aspects of my life, the areas that are good and noble, like kindness and generosity and thoughtfulness? Can I step back and recognize them for what they are, and if bad, kneel down, find the core root and fully remove them from my life? This is also not always a once off thing as the seeds may have already spread, but by constantly ‘weeding’ they will eventually become less and less of a threat, as the good things take root and grow stronger.

Hopefully what I will take into 2015 is to make both my vegetable garden and my life more effective, to be more purposeful and productive, to use my time wisely and to lighten my life generally, one ‘weed’ at a time. To try not to stress over the small things and to take time to recognize the good weeds from the bad.

One of our honey bees enjoying the clover.

Before you wage a war on weeds have a look at the resources online for edible plants. You could have a whole salad garden on your doorstep. I plan to continue to learn and grow in this area, having done a mushroom foraging workshop last year and will keep you posted. Interestingly too, with loosing one of our horses our paddocks have become quite unkempt, but the bees are in their element, foraging on the wild flowers and grass flower heads. Once again, one mans ‘weed’ might be another mans ‘honey’! Until then, happy gardening and keep in touch 🙂

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