This year I decided to try my hand at growing a garden. Lured in by all of the “locally sourced” and “urban gardening” buzz, as well as my own innate desire to see if I could actually grow my own food, I planted some bell peppers, beans, squash, okra, strawberries, and tomatoes. Knowing close to nothing about gardening, I knew that this year would be a learning experience for me. For the most part, it’s been pretty thrilling, watching my strawberries grow and ripen (note to other future gardneners, plant more than one if you want more than a handful), and watching my tomatoes turn from tiny white seeds into tall, sturdy green plants, soon to be full of the yummy red globes whose taste is the essence of summer. However, this process, like any other, was not without its disappointments. For whatever reason, only one of my bell pepper plants has survived its growth from seedling to plant, even though I planted some in the ground, and others in containers, and fed and fertilized all of them. Many of my beans, okra, and squash were completely consumed by insects, much to my intense frustration (picture Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny). These eventually all had to be replanted, with the help of an insecticide that promises to kill over 100 bugs and insects (so much for organic gardening- this was one battle I was determined to win).
As I was watering my plants this morning, and enjoying seeing all the bright new leaves and buds springing forth, I got to thinking about the connections between growing food and growing a business. Both come from just a tiny seed, whether that see is from a plant or from the seed of an idea. Both require constant care and nurturing if they are ever to turn into anything, as well as defensive attacks against certain predators and marauders. Finally, not all plants will survive the season, whether because of bad soil, too little sun, or too many weeds. And as sometimes happens in life, the strongest will usually prevail.
But there are lessons that can be learned from the journey itself. For starters, nothing comes up without some hard work. All of my hardy plants are the ones that I planted to the right depth, at the right time, made sure received enough sunlight, and frequently watered; the seeds I just sprinkled on the ground (tired at the end of a long day, and wondering what would happen) never came up at all. Next, sometimes the end just doesn’t turn out how you expect (I’ll be eating many more tomatoes this July than peppers, and will probably have to settle for a strawberry tart rather than a strawberry pie). And finally, you have to try a variety of seeds to see what works with the conditions you have to offer.
So as I mentioned earlier, this year is a learning year for me- I’m planting lots of seeds and seeing what comes up. Hopefully by this time next summer, the lessons I’ve learned this year will allow me to reap a better harvest come September.