When I was ten, we moved across the city to a house on a triangular lot with plenty of back yard. When I was twelve I convinced my mom to let me take the far corner space behind a fence and grape vines, overgrown with weeds and the neighbor's ivy, and till it for a vegetable garden. I grabbed my ten- and eight-year-old brothers and my seven-year old sister, leaving the younger kids out, and we all went out and worked that dirt until it was clear and and ready to plant, making sure we didn't disturb the old rhubarb plant. My mom told me how to make raised rows to plant seeds in, leaving lower rows for watering and we excitedly bought the seeds at the hardware store.
We planted radishes, zucchini, carrots, iceberg and green-leaf lettuce, bell peppers, sweet corn and pumpkins. The two weeks or so waiting for the first signs of growth felt like the week before Christmas -- like it would never arrive. When it finally did, all us kids kept it weeded and watered until we began harvesting our bounty. Did they ever taste great! A couple of months after the final veggies were taken, I was looking through the garden, reminiscing and planning for the next planting, I noticed something odd under the zucchini bushes. I reached down and pulled out a the biggest zucchini I had ever seen, probably two feet long and six inches wide. Evidently every one of us had missed this one on our multiple picking sessions.
Over the years I've lived in several houses, planted many a garden and grown dozens of fruit trees. The satisfaction of successful blooms and the birds, butterflies and hummingbirds they draw to us is like no other feeling. It is especially gratifying when you have selected the perfect mixture of colors, heights, and duration of flowers, shrubs and grasses for the intended space. Even full-time on the road I put out feeders to draw birds to us, and when we finally settle down in a home base, gardens will be cultivated.
I received several great responses on this topic and here are some of them (I've edited or paraphrased some):
Ayub B.- Gardening is a pleasure, be it for food or otherwise. Seeing the plants grow and unfolding new mysteries with every passing day is always no less an excitement. Gardening takes one close to nature, a feeling of being one with nature, a silent dialogue with nature.
Cathy R.- I love the smell of dirt. Pulling weeds is cathartic for me -- I can't do it with gloves. I need my bare hands in the dirt. My mom used to hate that I stayed so dirty all the time, but that's when I was happiest. Standing in the sun, wiping the sweat from my brow, admiring the work I've accomplished, kinda makes me feel like a pioneer woman. My mom used to use pulling weeds as punishment. I got in trouble a lot, sometimes on purpose.
Phyllis J. G.- Dig in the dirt. Plant a seed. Watch it grow. So satisfying.
Don L.- We garden for food, although it's not cost effective. The tomatoes are flowering and the green peppers are growing nicely. We also grow a lot of mint types because, well, just because. Keeps the bugs down.
Theresa W.- Gardening is just in my blood -- I don't know exactly how to explain it. It's therapeutic, a way of life for me. I am at severe unease if I can't be piddling in the yard. There is nothing that can beat digging your bare hands into the dirt and preparing it for planting, whether for flowers, veggies or herbs. You walk outside and you just can't help yourself. It brings so much peace.
BLSMSS- Right now I have one plant, but when I had my house, I had a beautiful garden. I had roses, glads, bleeding hearts, several types of lilies, mums, irises, and also a small garden with peppers, cucumbers, beans, squash, tomatoes, cilantro, basil, and around the corner, pumpkins. I miss the beauty and smell of the flowers, the hummingbirds and butterflies searching for nectar. The only thing I disliked was the bees. We did find a new species of moth we never had seen, just before we sold our house. It’s called a hummingbird moth -- strangest thing. I had to look it up. It brings back memories of helping my mom plant her flowers and garden. We had an handmade cultivator we sat on for weight as my mom would pull it to make rows. My mom's gardens were massive. Great memories.
Elsiesmom (Candy)- I garden for food when I’m stationary. I gotta have flowers for pollination -- flowers are food for bees and butterflies. It’s the rhythm and quiet of being in the garden I enjoy most. The beauty of cultivating the garden always draws me back in.
See Spot Run RV- When we had a home we loved garden. Different things made us happy about gardening. First, we just loved to get in the dirt and make something out of nothing. Flowers always added beauty, veggies are always better when grown yourself and my favorite was the herbs. I can't believe how much better, more flavorful, that home-grown herbs are -- you use so much less. They all create a sense of accomplishment and pride. All this doesn't even take into account the nutritional value of home-grown food. Love to garden!!
Dawg House- Ah, the house days. Never could do the gardening for food thing -- the squirrels were faster at harvesting than I was. I did like to plant with a mix of elements just to keep the yard interesting year round.
Outofsightadventures- I tend to enjoy things that flower throughout the year. At our sticks-and-bricks house our back and front yards were full of many tropical flowering plants. We also had a pretty extensive orchid collection. I guess I love the feeling I would get when my plants would thank me with a gift of blooms. I brought a few of my plant babies with me on the road... I couldn’t help myself!
Pat S. K.- I love flowering plants. They bring so much color and joy to a yard. When I travel I have two tiny vases that I try to pick little flowers for when I'm staying somewhere. I also have a portable vase that lies flat when not in use and fills up like a regular vase when you need one for a volume of flowers. I love it.
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.