#1 Raise Your Expectation to Fail
This is a tough lesson to learn and does not get easier with time. However, as Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms is quoted as saying: “If something is worth doing, it is worth failing.” Failing is a key element in learning, and learn we will if we only remember those things we failed at.
#2 But…Lower All Other Expectations
I expected my garden to double the output this year. It is the second year, and I have bees. I expected my bees to give honey this year; although it is the first season they’ve had in their new home, they are doing so well. I expected my soil to come into its own; it is the second year that I’ve added compost, grass clippings and manure. I expected so much.
#3 Don’t Give In
I watched late in the summer as my tomato plants started developing yellowing leaves on the bottom, and continued to watch as the yellowing leaves made their way towards my beautifully big green tomatoes. I watched as my onions fell over but retained their green stalks and the bulbs quit growing. I watched as my leek went to stalk, and the yellow cherry tomatoes I planted reached and reached for the light that was not available. I watched as my peppers seemed to not grow and was reminded how fragile life is, but how persistent the human spirit can be.
#4 And Remember that Nature Rules.
No matter what we do; no matter how much we care, nurture, pick, pluck, plant and ply: nature rules. It is not we that are the masters of our lives, nor is it a god. Nature it has been said is the most effective serial killer there is. If that is not enough, nature has only rules that it itself creates. As we go about our “important” business of living we forget that we ourselves are part of nature and not the other way around. Our gardens remind us of that when hale pounds our plants pitifully in the middle of summer, and we watch in horror as unknown diseases and plights overtake once healthy dreams. But remember that nature does not dream and you do!
#5 Do Your Best
Do your best, but remember that doing your best guarantees nothing (see #1-4 above). Do your best because doing your best is the meaning that we create in our lives. While it is true that we are what we eat, it is also true that we are what we think. If you do not do your best you have already wasted your time and nature will not lie to you about it.
#6 But Remember Your Best Is Never Good Enough.
I know that this seems harsh but there are plenty of people that will attest to this for you. I know that in school those nice “teachers” tended to remind you that everything will be OK, but they were lying. You received grades that you did not earn. I know that your friends will compliment you on such a fine job you’re doing, but they are just being nice and you know when that’s the case. Your best is never good enough because when it is you cease to learn and you will be reminded harshly of #4. On the other hand if you ever find that you believe these people it is probably because of #3.
#7 Remember: What Else Do You Have to Do?
The human lifespan is short. There is not enough time to waste on excuses although we all waste ample hours in doing so anyway. Your job is only an excuse. It may be that it pays for your garden. Or perhaps gardening is your job in which case #1-6. Either way you must eat and why not know what you are eating? Your children are only an excuse. They need you to live your life and not theirs. Give them something to look up to: teach them the importance of self-sustainability and food. Life is what we make of it. Ask yourself what you want to make of yours and perhaps more importantly why. Go out and tend your garden there really isn’t anything more important to do.