4 lessons from the garden

Note: This is the first in a three-part series. My husband’s parents and grandparents have several acres near Centerville, Texas (halfway between Dallas and Houston – hence the name). My kids love to go to the “country,” as they call it. We were there for Memorial Day weekend, and I was struck by the life lessons I witnessed in three days.

Papa’s garden

My husband’s grandfather – Papa – has an awesome garden. He’s growing corn, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, banana peppers, watermelons and cantaloupe. This summer he’ll keep family and friends well stocked on produce. I helped him pick one afternoon. While I was piling banana peppers in a bucket, I had plenty of time to think and observe. Here’s what I noticed:

1. Plant in season.

Did I mention we have a garden, too? Yep, we do. Except that our garden in Houston is a messy conglomeration of plants that we put in the ground too late to produce much of anything. So while Papa has a bounty of garden-fresh tomatoes, we have a whole lotta leaves.
Moral of the story: To everything a season…respect the rhythms established by the natural world.

2. Keep out critters.

This isn’t Papa’s first rodeo. He’s been tending his garden for many years. And he’s learned a few things along the way. Such as, he doesn’t like to work for squirrels, deer, raccoons, and other critters that sample his produce. So he took preventative measures. He built a fence around his garden that would keep out Tom Cruise, aka Ethan Hunt.
Moral of the story: Don’t leave the fruits of your labor unprotected. Within reason, guard what’s yours.

3. Watch for snakes in the garden.

This is the first year that Papa has grown watermelons. He’s got a fine patch growing, with several watermelons getting riper by the day. While we were there, my husband pushed aside some leaves to check on one of the watermelons. In a heartbeat, he bolted out of the garden. Turns out, there was a snake curled up against the watermelon. It hissed as soon as my husband pushed aside the leaves. We don’t know what kind of snake it was because none of us stuck around to find out. Even in a place as innocuous as a garden, danger still lurks.
Moral of the story: It wasn’t the first snake in a garden, and it won’t be the last. Watch out.

4. Harvest in season.

Harvesting is a daily event. Miss a day, and some of the produce gets too ripe, too big, too bitter. We had to throw a dozen yellow squash over the fence for the cows because they spent too long on the ground.
Moral of the story:  Don’t put off until tomorrow what you should do today. Over time, you’ll reap an abundance.

Let’s talk: Any gardeners out there? What life lessons have you learned in the garden?

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