Healing Lessons from my Garden

Sometimes I try to rush things.

I might turn the oven up a notch to hurry along the roasting vegetables, blow dry my hair on high heat so I can style it faster, or go a few mph over the speed limit on the highway. I’m not really accomplishing anything, though, and in fact I might be causing a little damage (to the nutrients in the veggies, to my hair, and to my car) in the process.

Have you noticed that nature can’t be rushed? You’ll kill a butterfly if you force it out of the cocoon too soon. You can try to make a plant grow faster using chemicals and fertilizers, or fatten a chicken quickly using hormones, but truthfully you are sacrificing a critical component of the process for a quick end goal that is not really healthy anymore.

My attempt at a summer vegetable garden this year reminded me that nature is boss and works at her own tempo.

This weekend, I pulled out most of the withering plants – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, and some arugula, all of which were tired from the long season.

Such a waste.

Some of the tomato plants had done well, but a few only produced one or two tomatoes. We didn’t get one sweet pepper or zucchini. (And yes, zucchini are supposed to be the bunny rabbits of the vegetable world.) The eggplant didn’t fruit until September, and only a couple had enough heat to ripen before the days got too short.

My garden was teaching me a lesson.

When I moved into this house a year ago, one of my goals was to plant a garden in a sunny spot in my front yard. It was obvious, however, that the soil hadn’t been worked in years. In fact, at that point, it was basically dead dirt rather than a living entity.

The drought didn’t help things either. This dirt was really dry and could barely be broken into big clumps. A smattering of winter rains brought weeds, but then those were difficult to rip out because the dirt became dry again, and the weeds broke off at the root.

Suddenly it was already April, and I hadn’t done anything to nourish the soil. Each weekend, I turn a little patch of the dirt in an attempt to kill the weeds. It was slow, backbreaking work, and I could only manage a few square feet at a time before my hands would blister from the spade. It didn’t dawn on me to add compost from the backyard – or more importantly, to ask someone knowledgeable for help.

Before I knew it, Summer Solstice arrived. Darn, I had to get the garden planted! So I went to various local nurseries and scrounged what few organic seedlings they had left, then put them into the hard, uninviting dirt.

The veggie garden, late June

The veggie garden, late June

The plants barely grew. In desperation, I sprinkled compost and worms on them and even replanted a few in transplanting soil, but the result was clear.

I hadn’t spent enough time preparing the soil properly.

Rather than rushing the garden, I should have waited. In fact, I should not have planted anything at all this summer. Ultimately, I spent more money on the seedlings and watering than I would have spent at the farmer’s market for the same amount of vegetables. I should have spent the time, money, and energy tending not plants, but the soil, so that after several months of love, compost, earthworms, water, and perhaps a cover crop of fava beans, it would be lush and loamy earth ready for a spring crop. Spring 2015.

It is the same thing with healing our bodies. You can’t rush healing or getting healthy.

You can quickly address a health issue, such as a non-emergency allergic reaction, using drugs like prednisone, Benadryl, or Claritin, but that’s not healing. That’s suppressing. And though it may seem faster, it will always comes back to bite you in the rear, and it will always cost you. (An emergency situation of anaphylaxis is different – and that’s when the stronger drugs are appropriate.)

True healing takes time. You have to clean up your physical and emotional garden before you can even think about planting any seeds or seedlings. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on pharmaceuticals, supplements or fad diets… you have to address the core problems and create the right environment for healing to take place.

It took years of neglect for the soil in the garden to go bad, just as we often neglect our own health and habits for years, until one day our body breaks down in its attempt to get our attention.

If you want to heal your body, heed the lesson of my garden and take your time. Ask for help and guidance. Make seemingly smaller changes that stick over time. The hard core healing might not seem fast enough, but the return of your investment in yourself over time will be far greater than any quick fix could ever provide.

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About Jennifer Schmid, MSN, RN, CNL

Founder and owner of Oasis Wellness, Jennifer Schmid, MSN, RN, CNL, is a holistic nurse and natural wellness educator who is passionate about helping people get healthy naturally. With degrees in both nursing and naturopathy, Jennifer successfully bridges the gap between conventional and alternative medicine, understands when each is appropriate, and advocates for her clients’ health care freedom.
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2 Responses to Healing Lessons from my Garden

  1. Tony says:

    Jen,

    Here are my recommendations.. I saw ur post on the WAPF yahoo group.

    I am a fan of the no TILL method and no bare soil.. All your beneficial bacteria, fungi, nematodes, etc. live at the top 6 inches of soil. Bare soil and tilling kills this micro-organism community..

    What to do now:

    Get a soil test from Logan Labs to evaluate current condition of soil. With a test you can find out your deficiencies and amend your soil appropriately.
    Get a compost bin going: I use appropriate food scraps, manure from my grass fed farmer, leaves and twigs from my backyard, etc..
    Here is a great compost cheat sheet: http://www.nofanj.org/Posted%20PDFs/2014%20WC%20Speaker%20Handouts/J.%20Schleppenbach%202014%20Compost%20Handout%20PDF.pdf

    So for now, you can add any compost, apply any mineral amendments, and I would do a green manure crop..
    For a summer planting next year: use a fall cover crop of rye, vetch, and clover. Let them overwinter and then kill in May. The cover crop roots will till your soil and keep the biology alive.. Cut down in May, and any compost or goodies (I add Rock Dust every planting and various other amendments) and then plant your summer crops. Use the dead cover crop as mulch (bare soil is like an open wound). My raised beds are always covered with manure crops, leaves or hay or wood chips.

    • Wow, thanks, Tony! I will definitely do a soil test to see where we’re lacking. Luckily I already have a really good compost pile going in my backyard, so I can use some of that, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to cover that whole space. I also like the idea of keeping crops covered, especially if this drought continues. I’ll keep you posted!

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