Any plant will do. Go find a plant and keep it near you. Perhaps a pretty little houseplant, perhaps an edible herb, or maybe something more.
There is nothing as able to sync our souls with the world around us like growing something. Watching things grow takes us out of our ruts, raises our eyes from the immediate, and connects us with something greater than ourselves. We realize that we too are part of the rhythms of the world.
If you want to be even more astonished, take a seed and look at it. Tiny and shriveled. How can life possibly dwell in something so dull? Yet in soil with water and sunlight, magic happens. That insignificant thing becomes this majestic source of food for body and soul. I witness it every year, and still it astonishes me. Every growing plant is part of a miracle.
This is a simple instruction. One small pot is all I’m asking.
Reasons to Grow
Connect with something bigger than yourself.
Remember that we, too, are part of the rhythms of the world.
Introduce hope and magic into your life.
Be nature’s student.
Teach your children – and yourself – where food comes from.
Eat the freshest possible, ultimate local food.
Season your food with the best flavoring of all: the satisfaction of growing it yourself.
With Indoor Plants
Clean your air.
Decorate your space with color, brightness and texture.
Even in the midst of chores or office work, remember the unsurpassed gorgeousness of good things growing.
Even if all you grow is one little plant, all of the above is possible.
Where to Start
As I say in many areas, start small. Start simple. A houseplant. A potted herb – basil, mint. Rosemary is hearty. Something where a couple of leaves can make a difference, even if all you do is look at them or add a few leaves to your water glass.
Don’t start with tomatoes. Tomatoes are often the poster child of the home garden, but they’re unruly, uncivilized and deceptive. They’re not for the newbie. They start as feathery little seedlings and then become massive entanglements. They scoff at those spindly structures we call tomato cages, so clearly designed by someone who had never grown a tomato. Now mind you, I do grow tomatoes, but that’s not where to start.
If you really want to try your hand at seeds, consider sugar snap peas. They grow best in cooler weather, which for me in sunny SoCal, means in the winter. They grow easily and are delicious right off the vine.
Or consider a fruit tree, which is easier than it sounds. Potted varieties are distinctive decorations for your patio. A lemon or mandarin tree is a delicious place to start.
If you want to foray into vegetables, try zucchini. But just one plant. That’ll be enough. By the end of the zucchini season, you’ll think you have gardening superpowers, but you’ll be begging it to stop producing. It’s a real confidence booster. When is the only time Southerners lock their cars? During zucchini season.
If you’re thinking…
But Lisa, I live in an apartment!
Grow in pots. I live on 2+ acres, and I still grow in pots because I don’t like to jackhammer through the decomposed granite they call “dirt” here. Pots are great. Gophers can’t eat through the bottom. There’s less to weed and to water. They’re pretty. They’re rearrangeable.
But Lisa, everything I try to grow dies!
Everything dies eventually. It’s part of the cycle of life. Many things die before we feel they should. So many life lessons in gardening. There is an element of risk when you grow something. This year, my hubby and I planted seeds. We were so excited to see those little flapjack leaves pop out of the ground. It was like watching our children grow. And then the snails ate them. All of them. Now I’ve started again with some seedlings and make nightly visits to my garden beds to relocate any snails to my far back slope.
But Lisa, aphids took over my plants!
Aha! Boy howdy, do I have a solution for you. It just so happens that this great soap I know, called “Dr. Bronner’s,” kills bugs. Yes, I know it’s a body soap, but it just happens to kill bugs, too. Mix up about 1 Tbsp. of the soap in a quart of water and spray your plants a couple times a day until the infestation is gone.
We are intrinsically and beautifully connected to the earth. Go far enough back into your ancestry, and I can guarantee that you will find farmers. Even now, however urbanized we may be, our sustenance comes from the earth.
This is not a “How To Garden” post because I am definitely not qualified. Instead, this is a gentle nudge. Grow one thing.
Here’s a bit of what I’m growing:
Don’t you think you could make room in your life for a little parsley plant like this?
The front line of the 2019 Snail Invasion. Every night, I stand guard over my honeydew (and basil and peppers and cucumbers) and pluck off the infiltrators. How do you spend your evenings?
Swiss Chard is my confidence booster. I bought a 6 pack of chard plants three years ago, and they’re still growing. The barrel is completely collapsing around them, and the plants keep growing. Green smoothie, anyone?
My tomatoes inwardly snicker at those cages. I don’t know why I bother. By August the frames will be completely overwhelmed. This year I bought tomatoes in every color and size.
Peach blossoms. Did you know anything could be so beautiful?
I had to thin the fruit (that means knock off about 2/3 of them – it’s best for the tree & fruit), all the while reminding myself, “They’re fruit, not children. They’re fruit, not children. They can’t feel.” A friend didn’t know peaches were fuzzy. He’d only had them canned. That right there is why I grow.
And then we have my apples. Don’t tell the others, but the apples are my favorite.
Apples make everything better. Yesterday, I was baking apples, and I just stood at the oven vent and breathed. Better than therapy.
And here’s my colleague Patty’s garden:
In boxes, too! So much easier. She has a few volunteer tomato plants from last year’s crop. That’s really free food!
Patty is growing zucchini. Brave soul. Anyone have a recipe for her? Here’s mine:
Slice zucchini lengthwise about 1/4” thick. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle fresh ground pepper and sea salt (or garlic salt). Grill over medium heat in a grill pan or directly on the grates til surface is slightly translucent. Flip and cook til the same doneness on side 2. Remove and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Super yum. I don’t think I’ll share.