I spent about an hour out in my garden this morning, staking my tallest tomato plant, and planting two more tomato plants, and three bell pepper plants. As I worked worm castings into the soil, I thought back to this time last year when I really wanted to raise a garden but was too intimidated to give it a go. I was worried that I would do miserably, that my time and energy would be wasted, and that my ultimate dream of living on a farm someday would be crushed by my abject failure to grow a few garden plants.
I talked and procrastinated and planned and procrastinated and did halfhearted research and procrastinated some more. When the time for summer planting had passed, I talked about a fall garden. I even signed up for a course in fall gardening. As enthusiastic as I was about the idea of gardening and raising some of my own food, I was paralyzed from moving forward into actual gardening by fear. Luckily, my sister Charity was staying with me for a bit and she took it upon herself to purchase the materials for the raised beds I wanted and do most of the bed-building with only a bit of help from me. (I got to use a circular saw for the first time!) She had done the hardest part, the part that I used as an excuse in my head for why I didn’t have a garden, but I was still afraid to move forward. I talked about the seeds I wanted to plant and the vegetables I hoped to eat someday, but never planted a darn thing until it was almost too late for a fall garden. Again, the kindness of another came into play. Brian purchased seeds and seedlings and planted our first fall garden. It took two kind people that were not me to make my dream of a garden come true. We enjoyed broccoli, radishes, and carrots from the fall garden that year while the cucumbers and beets withered up and died before they grew beyond seedlings.
With the raised beds in place and a bit more know-how as well as the enthusiasm gained from growing a bit of my own food despite my sporadic care, I decided to plant a spring garden. I was still a bit intimidated but I had worthwhile rewards to look back on as motivation. I planted two kinds of peas and beets. My beets failed miserably. My peas were awesome. Enjoying my pea harvest made my beet failure seem less daunting. I purchased more and more plants, taking a few moments to research each vegetable before I put it into the ground. This time, the cucumber seedlings I planted are growing, with blossoms and tendrils starting to peek out. My tomato plants have buds and two tiny tomatoes are starting to grow on one of them. My zucchini seems to be flourishing and I have a pepper plant that has one blossom on it. But I also have some plants that aren’t thriving. My watermelons, jalapeno, and one bell pepper all seem to be barely alive.
I am proud of the progress I’ve made as a gardener. As I began gardening this year, I had no idea what worm castings are or how to amend the soil with Epsom salts. I was watering improperly for weeks and weeks before I was shown the error of my ways by reading You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail. I’m still stumbling about, learning as I go, experiencing triumph and defeat in the same garden bed. I’m experimenting, asking questions, researching, and crossing my fingers. And I’m having a blast.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through gardening is that perfection is not necessary for positive results. If it were, I would not continue to try because I am nowhere near master gardener level. I think the worry that we will be less than perfect holds many of us back from trying new experiences. I know that specific worry is one I struggle with a lot. I was lucky to get my start through my supportive sister and my husband, but it is my responsibility to keep the experience going, to grow and expand. Reality is not nearly as daunting as what my mind can make up when faced with a new task. We humans can come up with a thousand creative excuses for why we are not doing what we really and truly want to do, putting it off until it is too late or too painful to think about. But trying something new and different, something we’ve said we wanted to do but never had the courage or faith to attempt, can yield life lessons, a sense of accomplishment, and some delicious results.
What dream or goal are you hesitating to move forward on? What new thing would you try if you could just get over the fear that you will fail or look foolish? Whatever it is, I hope you will stop letting fear, worry, and excuses stand in your way and just give it a go.