Prior to this spring, I’d only ever been able to raise a small indoor cactus because it really raises itself. Remember or forget to give it water every once in a while and it will be fine. It’s used to living in the desert after all. This matched my accountability level as I frequently forgot about it and didn’t water it for months and yet still it thrives! Succulents, bamboo, ivy, and many other indoor houseplants have found their untimely demise once they entered my care. I either completely forgot to water them or over-watered them. I had also never really gotten into outdoor gardening, letting my husband manage most of the yard work and flower planting since he enjoyed it.
That is until this year, the year of the Coronavirus, when I’ve been spending a lot more time at home and outside and, perhaps more than ever, also looking for peace and joy in simple things. I planted a couple of container garden flower pots earlier this summer for the front of the house after learning the intriguing concept of thrillers, spillers, and fillers. I think they turned out well for a first try! Two tomato plants in pots, some cilantro, and what I like to call my “Pandemic Poblano Peppers” have enjoyed the sunny summer deck. And with tips and tricks from neighbors and friends, I’ve been able to rescue my precious plants from a few near misses. One time it rained 4 inches and I realized I didn’t have holes in the bottom of the pots – nothing a drill couldn’t fix. The poor waterlogged tomato plants barely survived!
As I’ve walked through these spring and summer months, it struck me that I’m now not just raising children, I’m also raising plants. Both are a learning experience. Each is difficult and joyful in its own way. I am a proud plant parent each morning as I walk out onto the deck and check on my tomato plants (for the first of at least 4 daily check-ins!) How much have they grown overnight? Which ones are turning red? How is the soil? Are any ready to be picked? Do they need water yet? Do they need a hug?! I count the small tomato nubs and carefully arrange the leaves around the tomato wires to promote their upward growth.
And I will talk to anyone about my tomato plants, the hard times they’ve been through, and how they look like they are going to make it after all. I enlist a tomato caretaker when I’m out of town because these little guys need water and special attention when I’m not around. This has been a fun experience for me being new to gardening and the observation of their growth and consistency has been fulfilling in a time of uncertainty and confusion in the pandemic world. While I’m sure the intricate details of how plants grow is not by any means simple, it has been a simple way for me to steady myself, watching their growth day to day. There is also nothing quite like the feeling of walking outside to grab some cilantro, tomatoes, or pepper to add to a salad knowing I nurtured this delicious vegetable from beginning to my plate.
Along with gardening, I’ve also become more aware of and interested in the birds in our backyard. We have had several nests in our backyard this year. We see mourning doves, blackbirds, finch, robins, and others. I’ve watched a robin dig for a worm and carry it over to her babies and feed them! I saw two baby mourning doves perch on the side of the deck, what could have been their first venture out of the nest. And what a beautiful sound they make! Sadly I also watched a finch repeatedly smash its beak into the neighbors basketball hoop backboard, perhaps thinking its reflection was another bird. I realized, the ways of nature are very interesting when you take the time to observe.
Overall, I’m thankful for this time at home to enjoy the outdoors, plants, and birds even if it is in the midst of a pandemic. So tell me, what have you discovered?