There is truly nothing better to me than a crisp spring breeze, the subtle smell of fresh air and sunlight intermingling, and the annoying yet satisfying feeling of having God’s rich earth covering the cervices of your hands, deep into your fingerprints and farther down your nails than you knew possible. When life gets chaotic, I turn to the dirt. I always have.
Gardening is in my genetics. As a youngin, when the rest of my friends would head to social gatherings on the weekends, most times I packed an overnight bag, hopped in my dad’s pickup truck with my cousin, and together, we met up my grandparents on their farm for a weekend of manual labor and countless memories. When they first bought the farm, it was merely 25 acres of possibility. But as the years went on, I got to watch my family build an outhouse (the best and cleanest one in the country thanks to my grandma who insured that it was just as fancy as going to a 5-star hotel would be). They built a massive barn and dug a new pond while expanding the other. Cattle joined our family as did a horse for a brief moment. But my favorite was always the garden.
You always knew that dinner would be delicious when grandma cooked a farm-grown meal. It typically included wilted lettuce and a crisp tomato and onion salad covered in vinegar and sugar. There was nothing like raw radishes or the first bite of corn on the cob that we just picked. I learned a lot on that farm. I learned the value of hard work and commitment. I learned the importance of perseverance and how that is easily coupled with a level of exhaustion you never knew possible. But most of all I learned the power of patience, and how the taste of patience is worth everything.
My first home had a small patch of soil right outside of the condo that I used to plant a few tomato plants, and when Cory and I bought our first home, we built a garden that slowly expanded year after year. But my heart grew tenfold when we found the perfect slice of heaven nestled in the outer reach of the city we grew up in. Another 25 acres awaited for more memories, more togetherness and, what I came to learn, more patience.
A year ago this month, right when the world caved in, I found myself in the local home improvement store collecting everything I could to grow my own vegetable starters for fear that our current supplier wouldn’t have anything due to the pandemic. I bought more seeds than one could plant in a decade and as many grow lights as the store had in stock. I set up a space in my office and planted feverishly, only to have a few weeks of amazing growth, followed by what felt like a plague that wiped out each and every one. Hundreds of new growth were ruined, and that was just the beginning of my gardening saga.
The first round of starters that I bought to plant in our massive garden were killed by a late frost. The second round by a massive windstorm. And the final round never took because the soil hadn’t been fertilized properly. I gave up on my favorite pastime and neglected the space that always brought me joy. That is, until I got the first taste of a nearby spring and the push from a friend to try growing starters again once more. This time, I decided to try her approach and boy have I learned a lot along the process.
I was stressed. Her approach was different than mine. I didn’t have a guidebook or know how to navigate. But she gave me the best advice when I texted her panicked about how to grow vegetable starters without my normal tools — soil, planters and grow lights — and here were her words of wisdom: “Girl, don’t stress! Remember, seeds want to grow. Just give them a little water and sunshine.”
Whether you are a gardener of vegetables or seeking to garden your life, her words of wisdom ring true. The seeds we carry, whether they are as tiny as a pinpoint or as large as a melon, want growth. They don’t seek to stay dormant for years. They don’t want to be forgotten. They were gifted to bring new life. They have a purpose — in the soil of a backyard garden and the soil of our hearts — to help each of us grow to reach our fullest potential. All they need is some nourishment, light and someone who is willing to help connect the two.
What seeds in your life need the right conditions to begin to sprout, and how can you help give them a fighting chance?
As you reflect on the powerful analogy that a garden has on all aspects of your life, I invite you to join my family on our journey to grow vegetable starters for our background garden! With my friend, Emily, as our guide, you’re welcome to jump right in and learn first-hand the power of a seed.
To get started, all you need are the following:
- A seed packet (or many) of your choice
- Paper towels
- Ziploc bags (at least one per packet of seeds)
- A place where sun can peek through a window and you can easily place your seeds
Gather those items and on the next blog of this series, I’ll walk you through how to create the conditions for your seeds to reach their fullest potential!