All I Ever Needed To Know I learned In The Garden

By: Beaule Agerter

When starting a garden you got to get a vision in your head of what you want to grow- you got to imagine it first so's you can gnash on it later. Even if your notion of a garden ain't the eaten kind and you're just wanting fancy flowers and pretty trees and such, if you'll take the time to first see it in your noggin and keep that vision in one of them file cabinets up there it'll guide you real good when you're doing everything else that a garden needs doing. Now ain't that just like life? The young couple who decide to marry have a vision of a life of bliss with never ending romance, well raised perfectly behaved kids, and success and fulfillment around every corner. The little fella or the young missy can just see themselves riding that fire truck or climbing that mountain, wearing that uniform or driving that shiny race car, or even operating on folk's brains or sitting in that chair in that oval office there in Washington. Most anyone who got something done that was worth doing first seen it in their head.

So you got that vision in your head- you can see those rows of golden corn full of nature's sweetness. Those snap peas look so good you can just about taste em even though they're only in your head. And them tomatoes- the cherry ones and the big beefsteak kind and all the ones in-between...oh boy, you can practically smell the salsa already. Now is when you get down to business- you got to educate yourself on how to make your vision real- you got to find the answers to the questions that need answering to do that. Questions like how many rows of corn do I need to get good pollination? (see, I know a big word or two) Should I run them rows north to south or east to west? How close can I put em? Will the squash need more room? Should I grow the tater patch in hills or rows? Which is gonna get ripe first- the beans or the radishes? Is the season here long enough to grow melons? It's the same with everything else in life: The love birds figure out what they're going to need to make their dreams come true- what kind of job can earn them enough? Should one or both finish school? When should they start bringing them little ones into the world? The youngsters with dreams of walking on Mars or being a movie star need to figure out how to get there by finding the answers to questions like where is astronaut school? When can I start for Hollywood? Do I have to eat broccoli to be President? The guy who wants to have his own business is well served by first asking how much capital is it going to take to get started? When can I expect to begin to see a profit? Do I need to work for someone else while I'm getting the business started? Should it be located north or south of town or on the east or west side? Where will it grow best?

Now that you've figured out what you want to grow and how to grow it its time to get to work. The soil you grow your crops in is very important. You want dirt that lets the water through but holds enough of it for your thirsty plants. In other words too much clay and the roots will drown, but too much sand and they'll dry up. The best stuff is mother nature's finest compost. If you don't have any, then a good mix of sand, clay and loam will do. Add some fertilizer and you're set to go. Till all that in and mark and hoe out your rows and go to planting. No doubt you already see the life lessons here- its all about laying the proper foundation. I once heard of a housing tract built on an old garbage heap. You can guess what happened- those poor folks lost their homes when the ground beneath them started shifting around. A good foundation is important for whatever you want to do in life, wether its planting a garden, building a home, or choosing a career. You first build character and integrity. Then you get all the education you need to achieve your goals, and I'm not just talking school. If you want to drive a big rig you can study and get your CDL. Then it would be a good idea to learn from those who are living that life style. It's the same with marriage- if young folks will lay a good foundation first maybe there would be less divorce. I'm talking about saving money and making a start on the road to your goals even before you meet your sweetheart. As any business person knows you've got to count the cost so you don't come up short later. The squirrels do it when they put nuts away for winter. We all need to make sure there's enough water for the crops and enough nuts in the pantry.

Now that the ground has been prepared and the seeds planted you've got to keep the garden moist for a few weeks until those seeds sprout up. Of course while you're watering the seeds the weeds are going to sprout too- its just a law of Murphy, or nature, or something like that. But you can't pull em lest you pull the sprouts up too. So they both grow together for awhile until the crops get good enough roots so you can hoe between the rows. Then the bugs notice how nice the plants look and they decide to dine on your hard work. Just about when you get them under control the weather takes a turn and you hustle to cover the new seedlings to keep em warm until mother nature decides to be friendly again. So it warms up, and warms up more, and gets hot, and gets hotter, and gets so hot the corn starts popping in the ears. And all the while you frantically labor to make sure there's enough water, and to hold them bugs at bay, and to not let those weeds get taller than the corn. Someone once said the best laid plans of chickens and hens go up in smoke when the barbeque gets hot. It just seems like no matter how well you envisioned the garden, no matter if you got the best soil there is, no matter even if you had a civil engineer draw up the plans for the rows and seed spacing and watering schedule, there are always weeds and bugs, drought and flood, frost and too much sun. Nature uses lots of ways to bring them on- you might have stepped on a weed when you picked up your 1st grader from school and the seed from that weed waited to fall off your shoe until you stepped in the garden. Birds like seeds and they probably saw all the trouble you went to and figured they'd eat some of those seeds you so kindly put out for them. What about them little tykes who like to blow on those dandelion puffs and the wind drops them in your garden. That wind can spread weed seed even without the kid's help. It can wilt a plant you just watered yesterday and knock those corn stalks down tomorrow.

There are all kinds of weeds in life. Some of em we carry in and some weeds are blown into our lives by others. The winds hit the corn and the sweet peas at the same time and adversity hits us all too no matter if we're poor or rich, good looking or ugly. Take that young couple with a vision of complete marital bliss- reality sets in and he discovers that she's not as pretty in the morning as he thought she'd be and she learns that she can't stand his snoring. What happens when that first child comes just as planned but the little tyke has a handicap. Old or young- everyone has weeds- like the 8 year old who gets ribbed allot at school for the new glasses or like the 85 year old who just aches for that spouse that had the nerve to die first. What happens when schooling is all done but the job you went to school for isn't there? Sometimes we just don't measure up, and sometimes when we do life throws us a curve ball. The important thing is to not let the weeds get higher than the corn- don't let adversity overcome you. Moderation in all things- that's the key. Make sure you drink enough water and eat the right foods. Do your best to plow between the rows and root out of your life the unimportant and insignificant stuff so's you can concentrate on the stuff that really matters. Let come what may- frost or heat, rain or drought- hang in there, defy the odds, and keep the faith. With God's help it'll all turn out for your good. Or you can be like the lettuce that got too much sun and went bitter. Its your choice.

After all the preparation, after all the hard work and meeting the elements head on- finally there comes the harvest. You put up the fruits of your labor in cans and freezer bags and bottles. There's more corn than you and yours can possibly eat so you invite the neighbors over to roast it. You take that 10 foot long zucchini and make zucchini bread and fried zucchini covered with tempura. There's still allot left so you make zucchini ice cream and zucchini fries, zucchini cake and zucchini cookies. There's still allot left so you kindly offer it to your neighbors you had over for the corn roast but they have too much of their own so you scape it out and put a candle in it and use it for yard art. That's what life is like. You reap what you sow, you get what you paid for. The rain falls on the wicked and the righteous- you get to decide if you like it or not. You raise your family and the nest goes empty and you look around and see all this stuff that has accumulated over the years, so you have a yard sale! There's still allot left over so you donate it to the needy. You take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Just don't let em make you into yard art too early.

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