Weeds grew thick and tall in my recent and repeated absences, threatening to hide and destroy the beauty of the garden I’d planted. This morning I spent an hour tidying things up and giving space to the cucumbers and peppers so that they could grow unhindered. I’d hired a girl to irrigate enough to keep everything alive, but I didn’t ask her to pull weeds.
(Unripe grape tomatoes above, nasturtium in arugula below. All pictures taken just this evening.)
While hauling several baskets full to the trash I remembered my own advice to another young friend who was just falling in love with gardening. She asked me whether I thought she should do a little bit of garden work every day, or spend a couple of hours one or two days a week. I told her that the best way is to tend it a little bit every day. There is always a weed to pull, a tomato branch to be tied up, or a dead flower to be clipped off. The plants need water, and food, perhaps even a little shade from time to time.
One year our Baby was raising a pumpkin she hoped would be a huge one she could enter in the local Giant Pumpkin Contest. We were told it was advisable to put the growing pumpkin on a pallet when it was still small so that it could stay dry and be easily moved no matter how large it grew. When I got around to helping my daughter with that part of the project the fruit wasn’t very large yet, but the stem, having lain on the moist ground, had already sent out roots into the soil. This situation was hidden by a canopy of leaves, and when we hoisted the pumpkin on to the pallet, the vine stayed anchored by those roots, and the pumpkin broke off at the stem.
That was a hard lesson. I thought sadly of how a farmer, even a novice homeschooling pumpkin-grower, can’t afford to procrastinate. Any job involving a living thing has to be paced according to that creature’s rate of growth. And agriculture usually involves many living things all in relationship to one another: the plant, the soil, pests with their own life cycle, and probably others I’m not thinking of, not being a very good farmer still.
This morning’s brief mediation on how I really ought to tend more constantly to my garden continued when I later sat down at the computer to read the transcript of an interview with the Orthodox theologian and writer Vigen Guroian in which the topic of conversation turned, as is usually the case with him, to gardening, and he said “…were not God constantly willing His creation, loving His creation into existence, it would disappear.”
From my perspective as a lazy, distracted, and time-constrained gardener, I appreciate the steadfastness of our Lord in continuing His creative work moment-by-moment. Colossians 1:17 says that he “holds all creation together.” I am one of His creatures, whom so far He has seen fit to give life and breath to every morning, making it possible for me to tend my own mini-garden, which also couldn’t live without His blessing and daily upholding.
Something G.K. Chesterton said on the subject often flits through my mind, when musing on this subject. He said, that in contrast to children, who through excess of vitality want things repeated, “…grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough… It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again,’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again,’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
So far, the garden hasn’t seemed monotonous to me. Every day is different there. Of course, The Creator is making the daisies, and I get to discover them, along with the roses and budding fruits and spreading spinach. I do love my garden, and will try to be more constantly willing to keep it going, imitating my Lord.