Lessons of Life from My Gardening Experiments – k krishnaveni
Seven years ago, on the advice of my Doctor, I had seriously taken up gardening.
Little did I know that something like gardening could help me change my perspective about
life and help me change my thought processes, which in turn helped me in my recovery.
We lived in an independent house but had very little space around our house, that had soil.
As soon as I came home after meeting my Doctor, I dug up the soil and sowed Methi seeds
(Fenugreek) because they are the easiest to grow and grow pretty fast.
Gradually, I started sowing seeds of green leafy vegetables like Spinach, Sorrel etc. I also
planted stems of Mint leaves. We use mint leaves for cooking and the stems that are usually
thrown away, can be stuck in the soil and new leaves grow from these stems. Every day, as soon I got back home from work, I first met my little babies, I watered them and checked if they were doing well and only then went inside the house. I enjoyed shopping in plant nurseries and adding new plants to the garden. I also bought a lot of vegetable seeds from the plant nursery. My tiny harvests gave me plenty of joy. I would never miss clicking a photo of my tiny harvests and flowers loved to share them with all my friends and colleagues.
I soon learnt that some plants require less sunlight, that flowering plants and vegetables
plants require a lot of sunlight.
Two years ago, thanks to the Lockdown, I was able to spend much more time every day for
almost 45 days, with my plants. I was working from home and had the extra time that I spent
travelling to work, in my garden. One week into the lockdown, my husband who had been noticing my interest in gardening suggested whether we should remove some part of the cemented area around the house, so I could grow more plants. I jumped with joy. I never had this idea as I was not sure I would be able to spend time if I had too many plants. The decision was taken and I started dreaming about all the plants I would grow in this new area. Unlike other hobbies, I think gardening makes you fall in love with life, all over again.
That’s because a lot of Life’s lessons are learnt when we spend time closely observing the plants. The harvests too give immense joy.
Here are some Life lessons that gardening taught me:
- When you sow seeds and see them sprout when you see the first leaves when you see the buds and flowers bloom, when you see the fruits, at every stage of growth, the happiness increases manifold. I was amazed at the power of creation, I learned to appreciate nature and creation. I looked forward to each morning looking at my plants.
- There are times when I plant some saplings but a few saplings struggle to live and collapse. Watching this happen, I learned to accept failures in life. Not everything we take up results in success, but that’s ok. I didn’t give up; I planted more saplings.
- I watched a plant grow at its own pace. There is no way to force it to grow fast. Some types of plants grow fast and some are slow. I learnt to see how life unfolds and to accept the pace at which events happen around us. There is no point in being anxious, patience is the key.
- A lot of factors affect how well a plant grows. Sunlight, water, and nourishment in the soil are a few such factors. Too much or too less is no good. There should be a healthy balance. Similarly, a person’s overall development also depends on social, emotional, financial and spiritual factors. One should be balanced.
- Climbers require additional support in the form of trellises. Plants have to be given sufficient fertilizers regularly and have to be protected from pests by spraying pesticides. Similar support is to be given to our near and dear ones to help them grow. We usually don’t blame the plant for not growing well, isn’t it? We try to understand what could have gone wrong or what is lacking and try to give the required support. Similarly, relevant support is to be given to our loved ones.
- Plants are dependent on water, sunlight, air and soil. While humans are dependent on the plants to survive. I learnt to see the interconnectedness of all things on Earth, not just the relationship between living beings, but also the interdependency between all living beings and non-living entities like sunlight, water, fire and earth. I began to see that even the so-called non-living entities are as lively as the living entities. Without these 5 elements, life isn’t possible. I began to revere the five elements that make up our world, called Pancha.
- A lot of physical work goes into growing plants in a garden which then yields a lot of fruits, flowers, greens and vegetables too. The same applies to hard work in all other areas of life too. More often than not, success follows hard work and the ‘fruit’ of hard work is definitely sweet.
- I learnt that life exists not just above the soil, but a lot of creatures and microbes exist under the soil. The plants and these creatures have a symbiotic relationship. I read that soil is not lifeless but is throbbing with life. The unseen world in the soil is amazing. The microbes break down the soil into nutrients which are absorbed by the plants. In turn, the plants feed these microbes with sugars. This is an unbelievable truth and demonstrates how interdependent the whole world is. This truth made me feel that humans are much inferior to plants as we cannot create food for ourselves from air, water and sunlight the way plants do and are dependent on them. This is humbling.
- The plants do their best to thrive in all kinds of extreme climatic conditions. They don’t succumb easily, are very strong and patiently wait for the right conditions and bounce back soon. When the plant doesn’t get sufficient water, its roots grow further down to reach places with water. They grow towards the Sun if planted in a shaded place. They are intelligent creatures too. If plants can be so resilient, why can’t we?
- Creepers and climbers take the support from nearby objects to grow further. This is an important quality to be learnt by humans too which is to take help from others whenever required and not hesitate. So, let’s learn to take support of others when required and it is not wrong to take help from others. Ask for help. Nature does.
- While a plant is growing and the main stem is cut, the plant grows several side branches. It doesn’t give up and die, it grows vigorously and bears more branches, flowers and fruits. This is an essential trait that we need to learn from plants. A never give up attitude.
- The creepers are very flexible; they grow any which way that is comfortable. Climbers always want to grow higher and higher; they go up any structure and spread all over the place. They bypass any obstacle on their path and continue to grow. Be flexible in whatever you do to live a better life and continue to grow.\
- A seed looks so tiny, but a whole tree grows out of the tiny seed. Isn’t this a miracle? This is the creation and watching this unfold right in front of our eyes definitely makes us believe in a higher power. Makes me humble before creation.
- Fruits grow only when the flowers of a plant are pollinated. The pollen from male flowers has to fall on the female flower, in order to bear fruit. Plants don’t move, so how does this happen? Plants depend on insects to do this pollination. This is amazing. Another creature, while sucking the honey from the flowers unknowingly picks up the pollen and transfers it to another flower. This is how we get fruits from plants and trees. This is an amazing phenomenon. This is another example of how different living entities are dependent on each Other. No man is an island.
- When we see plants dying, it feels very natural, isn’t it? This phenomenon broadens our thinking about our own death. It is quite natural that every living thing will be gone one day and thus the fear of death diminishes.
- Plants are the most non-selfish living things on the planet. They give oxygen, they provide shade, they bear sweet-smelling flowers, they give us food, and they clean the air. All of this without grumbling. Aren’t they the most beautiful beings on our planet? All other living creatures are only consumers and don’t give anything back to nature.
- When I am in the garden all my thoughts come to a stop. I give 100% to the plants. It just happens effortlessly. It’s like I am meditating. I feel so energised and look forward to being with them again.
Observing plants has undoubtedly made me a better person. I feel more connected to
everything and everyone on this planet. A lot of cobwebs in my head, read as ‘pre-conceived notions’, got cleared and I am able to live a better life. I am more at peace with myself and others around me. I strongly feel that everyone has to spend some time in Nature to understand and appreciate all life on Earth, to learn to coexist with nature and with each other and to be responsible and not be selfish.
I sincerely feel that gardening should be made mandatory in schools so children learn the above lessons from Nature herself. Mother Nature can survive without us but we cannot live without Mother Nature. Gardening is therapeutic. I am so glad I listened to my doctor.