“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein
There is no better way to explain that magical force of momentum than through the wonders of a spring garden. Whatever you want to understand, a garden is a fabulous teacher.
In winter we installed two new garden beds. I would have loved to plant them up right away, but we had frosts, and the weather was bleak. No matter my enthusiasm, it wasn’t the right timing, and my plants would have failed. Instead I filled the gardens with good dirt and compost, covered them with straw, and let them lay fallow.
Me? I had the pleasure of planning what I might grow. I poured over books and old garden journals to see what had worked well before, what plants had failed, and why they might not have thrived.
Finally, in early spring I pulled back the straw and planted out my new beds. I fully expected that some of the plants would fail. I also knew that some would do better if I supported them with companions.
And I planted some flowers too. Because flowers attract bees, help lure away predators, and are simply good for my soul.
Then I watered and fertilised my garden and covered it back up with careful handfuls of mulch.
I worked it every day, doing little things, but at first progress was so slow. It didn’t look like anything was happening.
Then some of my seeds started to shoot forth little leaves, and a few of the seedlings I’d planted grew an inch or two. Nothing dramatic, but it was something. There was not a thing to feed me yet, nothing at all that I could use without harming the future growth of that garden. I couldn’t take from it so prematurely – when it was not yet ready to give.
But now, with a few more weeks, some sunshine and water, miracles have happened in that garden. Everything has suddenly shot forth. My zucchini are already producing, my herbs are lush and vibrant. I have radishes, the first of the tomatoes, an abundance of herbs and leaves from which I can make a selection.
My garden now has momentum. If I tend it well, it will continue to thrive, grow and produce more and more food through the rest of spring, summer and into autumn.
As my current garden matures plants may fail, a few will do okay but not brilliantly, some will thrive. I can keep changing the mix, and adapting to existing conditions. I’ll do more of what works, and stop doing the things that give me no or few results.
I’ve already done my risk management. When my old gardens were all on the ground they were beset by bandicoots, rabbits and bush rats. They got waterlogged during periods of extreme wet weather too, and many plants rotted. Sometimes they were trampled by cows. My old garden did well when the season was easy, but terribly at the first hint of trouble. Still, it was a cheap way to start out, and it gave me plenty of experience. It also meant I learned the hard way, with a number of spectacular failures. I’ve kept those beds, and I still use them, but I know what NOT to plant out in them now.
When I first experienced garden disasters I talked to my neighbours who’d all been gardening here longer than me. It seems mine were common problems in these parts. Some fenced their beds, some lifted their produce up in old water tanks or bins. It got me thinking about how I could improve my own situation. There was also another factor to consider. I’ve been unwell. Raised beds would make it much easier and more pleasurable for me to tend.
A raised bed puts my most vulnerable plants out of the way of the munchy critters, and gives much better drainage. It’s also a lot easier on my back! I had to save a little longer to get the raised beds, and for years I made do with what I had, but now I have upgraded to a better system, which is already returning outstanding results. My technology and position is enhancing my garden’s productivity. And I’ve hedged my bets, with convention garden beds on the ground, and some raised beds too.
This same understanding can be applied to investing your money, or starting a new business. It’s okay for things to start in humble ways – ways that won’t yet sustain you. A little diversification is also a good thing.
While my spring vegetable garden has been in its infancy much of my produce has come from the farmers’ markets. If you are starting a new business, or putting money into investments you may still need a regular job or another income stream to sustain you.
My garden is doing so well, but it can’t yet feed me and my family, or give me the variety of produce I enjoy. That’s some months away yet. And yet, unless there is some unforseen catastrophe (for which insurance might be useful), given time it will meet and exceed our needs, and there will be surplus to bottle, freeze or store away for the winter months.
And the fruits of my labour?
Last night a salad made entirely from herbs, leaves and vegetables I’ve grown myself. At least twenty different kinds.
And it was delicious!