Lessons From a Garden

In today’s hurried world, there’s nothing like having a garden to putter around in after a long day at the office wrestling with digital dragons, want-it-nowers, and what’s-next-itis. I haven’t had a vegetable/herb garden in years, but I’m enjoying the one I planted this year. The bounty I’m reaping from it goes well beyond the tasty morsels you see here.


There’s nothing like beachcombing, wandering aimless on a seashore concentrating on finding that perfect sanddollar, to detach from other thoughts. Like walking the sand, working in the garden creates an environment of free thinking. It’s not that I spend the time in the garden mulling over the day’s challenges and tomorrow’s to-do list, but more that it’s like stepping into a different world where it’s okay, temporarily, to leave the other one behind.

Present Minded

Like time on the beach, puttering around in the garden is excellent present-minded practice. Hard to be trimming the leaves, looking for bounty ready to pluck, removing errant weeds, and being ever-watchful for destructive insects to keep the mind on a single purpose. Interesting how calm I am after spending even 30 minutes in the garden.

Cause and Effect

It’s difficult to remember we used to plan work, put things in motion, and wait patiently for results. Many things come so quickly and easily these days. Growing something in a garden teaches and reinforces planning, patience, responsibility, reward, even check & adjust comes into play during the cycle of seed-seedlings-thinning-pruning-caring in a plant’s life.

Keeping Order

Order comes in many shapes and colors in a backyard garden. Some prefer pristine, straight-rowed gardens free of a hint of weeds with the crops growing within some invisible set of behavior rules in the gardener’s mind. Others thrive on a more free-form expression where some weeds are allowed, and veggies allowed to grow in whatever direction they like. Mine falls between the two, where I try to keep weeds controlled but don’t worry about eradication, and I let the plants take their naturally course, interceding when necessary (as in when my yellow squash got the idea the entire garden plot was theirs and grew accordingly and hogged the sun from the neighboring veggies). Whatever order fits your ilk, a garden still requires a bit of order and tending as plants bear edibles and their growing needs change.


Despite my over planting and a few varieties not liking the soil or sun or both, my garden’s been a delightful escape and a place to reground myself and reap the reward of fewer dollars spent at the local grocery (not to mention the health benefits of local, clean veggies). I consider my garden work a form of meditation in a sense, and much like walking meditation, provides benefits that build over time disproportionate to the brief moments I spend in my garden clogs beneath my wide-brimmed straw hat. Now the big question I’m mulling over is how to carry this garden spirit into the winter and keep the mental harvest going.

2 thoughts on “Lessons From a Garden

  1. This is really the first year in about 20 years that I’ve had any luck with my vegetable garden. But, still, it’s not producing like yours! I have tomatillos, three kinds of heirloom tomatoes and two kinds of cherry tomatoes (all of which are showing great promise!), pole beans and green peppers. Honestly, even if I don’t get a big harvest, I’ll do it all again next season ‘cuz it’s been like meditation for me, too. From the planning and documenting to the planting and digging, I’ve loved every minute of the process. I’ve added “gardening” to my list of favorite hobbies!


    1. Gary

      It’s become a favorite activity of mine. I have but a small plot, about 12×12, but thinking of cutting out that much on the front yard (actually front-side) next year for a second plot. Sort of a victory garden. Have learned a lot this year and can’t wait to plant next year! Meantime thinking of trying a few late crops before winter hits us.

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