Officially, it is Spring, my second favorite season. Almost exactly two year ago, on April 1, 2021 I wrote a WealthNotes article about spirituality and gardening. In that post I talked a little about my love of gardening, and the seeds I started that year to get a jump on the growing season and to help me through the end of another Ohio winter.
It’s so exciting to start seeds. Tiny green shoots start breaking through the dirt and they grow so fast! I’ve tried starting seeds a few times in recent years, with very mixed success. My weak, leggy seedlings had a tough time surviving in the actual garden.
Why do I love gardening? As I wrote back in 2021, I grew up with a large garden and a mother who canned sauces and vegetables. As an adult, I have grown to understand the importance of staying connected to nature and I appreciate that gardening requires and teaches patience and care. Planting a garden is an expression of faith, an understanding that today’s labor brings future rewards.
My childhood summers of weeding long rows and snapping bushels of green beans didn’t translate to easy success as a gardener. I started keeping some rough gardening notes several years ago – when and which seeds I started, which variety of the various vegetables – home grown or from the garden store – were planted and how successful each was. Gaining knowledge as I went, avoiding past mistakes.
After my very limited seed-starting success in early 2021, for Christmas that year I asked for some tools, including a sturdy growing tray, a heat mat and, I think most importantly, a grow light on a timer. Plants, I have found, really like consistent light.
Last year was the first growing season with my fancy new set up, and with gentle heat my chosen seeds germinated beautifully. But I didn’t transplant the seedlings early enough. Some of them became root bound; leaves paled and yellowed. Once I transferred them to bigger pots, the survivors thrived but I lost a lot of plants and still had to supplement my efforts with purchased plants.
Here we are in year two. The picture at the top of this post is an actual picture of my tomato plants that I took a few days ago. So far, success! I transplanted them at the right time and they’re growing. They look like the plants I’ve purchased in years past. The peppers are coming along nicely too.
But I’m still learning. I think I started the tomatoes a little too early this year – we’re still probably six weeks out from putting them in the garden and I think I’m going to have to transplant them again very soon, but I’ve made note of that too. The peppers are lagging the tomatoes. They took longer to germinate; next year I will start them first. And I’m trying some different varieties, so we’ll have to see how successful everything ends up being.
As I think about this little hobby of mine, it doesn’t feel so little. It feels like it’s trying to teach me things. About failing and having the faith to try again. About paying attention, making notes, and understanding the importance of continuing to learn. And about figuring out the right tools to accomplish whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish. All lessons that maybe I should’ve learned sooner, but I’m glad for them now.
If you’re not already into gardening, it’s not too late. Here in Central Ohio, garden and home improvement stores are just starting to stock plants – there’s plenty of time to pick up some beautiful flowers or vegetables and start your own gardening journey.
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications