Search Amazon.com for gardening books and you’ll come up with about 48,000 telling you how to garden.
While a good book can give you a start, no author knows the character of you or your garden. And no one can predict the relationship that starts up between you and your garden. This is something that grows over time with you being present in your garden, working in it, struggling with it, loving it. You become in tune with its cycles and specific needs. Over time your experience with it teaches you what vegetables grow well and which don’t. What methods work and which don’t. You become aware of its issues: moisture and nutrients, weeds, insects and pests, shade, and what works best to solve them or simply deal with them, maybe just working around them.
The old adage, “experience is the best teacher,” remains true. But first you need to apply perseverence, determination, and a good dose of elbow grease. The more you invest of yourself, the more your garden responds by producing food for you and your family, and you feel gratitude, and the relationship grows even more.
And as time goes by, you become a better gardener and you begin to love your garden like a member of the family. You treat it tenderly, gently supporting bean stems as you harvest, tucking errant earthworms back in the soil, admiring a tiny snail or a swallowtail caterpillar in the parsley. Your children, too, will sense your wonder and pick up on it, and it will propel them into a love of gardening that will last a lifetime. What better gift for the next generation!
So, the best thing you can do if you want to garden is just start. Decide on a plot, till it up, put out your seeds, keep it watered and weeded and ask lots of questions if you like. And over time, as you observe your plants and see what works, and try different methods, you’ll learn more than reading all the books or taking a gardening course. Because what you learn will be specific to your little garden spot. You’ll know it like the back of your hand. And knowing leads to a loving relationship. Only you will be the best judge of how to garden in this place.
Reading is good. But doing is better!