Updated: Jan 4
Flowers are not the only thing that can bloom in a garden. Grow in a garden and you can grow too. It can make you a stronger, better person in a wide range of different ways. Here are just some of the ways that you could be growing personally while growing a garden:
Learning a Range of New Skills
Of course, one of the most obvious areas for personal grown in a garden involves skill building. There are many opportunities to learn new skills in a garden. Most obviously, a garden will teach you skills involved in growing your own food, and growing other plants as well.
You can learn how to sow, grow, water, manage pests and diseases, and how to harvest and use your crops. And those simple skills are just the beginning. You'll likely learn about natural cycles – the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the cycle of life, decay, death and new life.
You should also learn other skills that will help you live in a more sustainable way. Such as, for example, managing water, using renewable energy, and recycling nutrients (through composting, liquid feeds, mulches etc.). You should also learn about plants: how to identify them, and the many different ways they can be used. And you may also learn a lot more about the wildlife with whom you share your space.
Taking Control and Boosting Your Confidence
Another way that you may be growing personally while growing in a garden is in your self-confidence. Gardening can be one of the more positive ways in which we humans can shape our environments. Sustainable gardening can mean working to shape the world around us to meet our own needs. Boosting self-reliance and resilience by working in our gardens can give us back control and help us feel more grounded, secure, and confident.
Even the least green-fingered person can achieve plenty of small successes in a garden. Each seed that germinates... each flower that blooms... each fruit that ripens. They can all feel like small victories. And with each small garden success, your confidence can grow.
And the more skills we learn, and the more assured we become in those skills, the more confident we will feel – not just in the garden but potentially also in other areas of our lives.
But Accepting Lack of Control, and Learning To Cope With Setbacks
Of course, not everything goes according to plan. Gardening has its ups and downs. As a gardener, you come to see that nature reigns. You'll learn to work with nature in an organic garden. Instead of fighting it at every turn, you'll begin to see that while some things are within your control, others definitely are not. When you learn to accept a lack of control in some areas, while taking the reigns firmly in others, this can be a real moment of personal growth. This is something that will stand you in good stead – not just in your garden, but also in other areas of your life.
Some seeds fail to germinate. Sometimes, you might make a mistake when it comes to watering. A disease might kill your plants. Or a crop may be eaten by something else before you get to it. These things can certainly be disappointing. But as a gardener, you soon learn to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. You learn to roll with the punches and not become too disheartened when something goes wrong. So gardening can help you learn to cope with setbacks of all sorts.
Overcoming Plant Blindness, Avoiding Overly Anthropocentric Thinking
Another interesting way that spending time in a garden can help you grow is through allowing you to truly 'see' plant life. As humans, we have a tendency to see plants merely as a backdrop. We often fail to see that they too are a form of life – albeit one that is in some ways very different to us. As a gardener, you come to understand plants a whole lot better.
You begin to see that they are a lot more complex and interesting than we often give them credit for. Plants 'talk' to one another, they co-operate, or fight. They can nurture their offspring, and defend themselves against attack. Spending time in your garden can help you see the world in a different way.
By observing and interacting with plants (and wildlife) in your garden, you can overcome thought processes that are not helpful in the creation of a truly sustainable way of life. It can help you stop seeing humanity as the center of the universe and help you begin to recognize the vital role played by each and every element in a garden ecosystem.
Forging Stronger Connections (With Nature, and Other People)
Truly seeing and beginning to understand other forms of life is the beginning of a closer connection with other parts of the natural world. To grow personally, and to live in a more sustainable way, we need to reforge our connections, and find our place in the natural order of things. We need to see and appreciate that we humans are just one more part of nature's systems. Gardening can help us forge those stronger connections to the world around us.
Finally, one more interesting thing to consider is that growing in a garden can also help us forge closer and stronger bonds with other people. Of course, gardening as a family can bring you closer with your loved ones. But gardening could also bring you closer ties to your neighbors, or to other people in your wider community. There is plenty of potential to reach out with kindness, to share tools, seeds and other resources. Together, we can use our gardens and our gardening to make our world better for all.