Are You a Gardener?

Gardening is a mindset that doesn’t require soil or seeds to develop. Anyone who enjoys the exquisite taste of an heirloom tomato fresh from the garden has the innate ability to be a gardener. If you like to smell roses, or lilacs, or honeysuckle, you have the makings of a gardener. If you like vegetables of any kind, gardening may be in your blood. Even if you don’t like vegetables at all you are ripe for becoming a gardener. Essentially, gardening is for everyone.

Gardening is one of the few things in life where you have complete control over why you do it, when you do it, where you do it, and how you do it. And after you’ve done it you have something to show for your labors. Successful or not, you have accomplished something unique.

giant pumpkin

A giant pumpkin in the Galileo garden

At this point, many people counter with their lack of a green thumb or even the possession of a black one. My counterpoint is that I have killed more plants than many gardeners will ever grow. I gardened for decades before becoming a master gardener. At that point I learned of the many things I had done wrong for so long. But that hasn’t stopped the devastation.

With increased confidence I planted, and killed, many more plants. I continue to make mistakes in gardening. It’s part of the process.
Sure, I would prefer to always be successful and never cause a plant pain or death, but gardening is not just about success. It is about partaking in an activity that has been proven to enhance the enjoyment of life and even prolong it. Gardening is good for you.

Too many people think that to be a gardener they must have a plot of land dedicated to a time-consuming activity. Nothing can be further from the truth. A single pot on your patio with a live plant in it makes you a gardener. If that single plant is a tomato or pepper, you are a vegetable gardener. If it is a marigold or daisy, you are a flower gardener. If it is basil or thyme, you are an herb gardener. If you have a plum tree in your yard and harvest the fruit, you have a mini orchard and are a fruit gardener.

Plums on my plum tree

Plums on my plum tree

Once you’ve acknowledged that you’re probably a gardener at heart, by thought or through demonstration of what you grow, you can begin to expand your gardening knowledge and think about adding more plants to your repertoire. If you already have that plot and are growing a vegetable, herb, or flower garden, think about what you can do to grow and experience more.

Winter is a great time to think about your gardening plans for the year. Consider adding another pot on your patio, or taking out some lawn and adding a vegetable bed, or venturing into the addition of fruit trees. Spend indoor time during the cold months researching and learning. Talk to the people you know who you consider to be gardeners and ask them for advice on how to begin.

When done with the foundation of a little knowledge, gardening takes less time than most of your everyday activities but can be far more rewarding. Extra time and effort can lead to ample enjoyment and satisfaction. And at the end of the day you can call yourself a gardener.

For the last two years I have been gardening on a full-time basis for a phenomenal school garden project. As a result, my blog postings have suffered. I plan to rectify that by sharing of our adventures in gardens that are planted by and for children. I call myself a gardener and am sharing that mindset with a new generation. I look forward to the days when these students call themselves gardeners.


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