July 1, 2011
It's been over a month since I last posted here to My Own Edible Garden. The reason for the delay is the whole point of today's entry, which is all about patience, something many of us are all too short on at times. That's kind of ironic since we parents work so hard to instill patience in our kids, from not grabbing for the first piece of birthday cake at a birthday party to properly learning the steps of a new skill to waiting for other people to have a turn before taking one themselves.
Edible gardens are one of the best natural teachers of patience because when you grow a fruit or vegetable, you have no choice but to wait until what you are growing has reached maturity and is ready to eat. It's the literal opposite of fast food. To a non-gardener, the thought of sitting tight for that long can seem like agony (it certainly did to me at first), but if you pay attention and observe the growth of whatever it is you plant, nurturing it along the way, it will imbue you with an particular appreciation for food that has almost disappeared in our culture of immediate gratification.
When you raise a tomato from seed to fruit -- waiting, watching and tending to it for months until that first red orb is ready to pluck -- the taste is unlike any other tomato you have ever experienced and I'd wager it's also the best one you've ever had. As opposed to how most of us normally eat, dare I say mindlessly, wolfing down a tomato you have waited months for to be ready is almost impossible to do. There is a respect and appreciation you develop for food you have grown that is difficult to put out of one's mind. You know the road your tomato has traveled because you have walked alongside it at every step; it's feeding, pruning and protection from pests having all been very much dependent on your vigilance.
It makes it hard to ever look at the produce section in your supermarket the same way again. There have been many times since embarking on this garden project that I have quickly scarfed down my food while working and experienced tremendous guilt afterwards for not stopping to think where that food came from and how it got to my plate. I know it sounds corny, but gardening obliges you to be conscious of the fact that everything we eat has a story attached to it and to realize how much satisfaction can be derived just from taking a beat to think about it.
When we started the My Own Edible Garden series, I fantasized about posting weekly installments where all of you who may similarly be new to gardening could learn how to do it alongside me, and I would be able to share weekly tidbits with you about my produce and it's progress. Nature, however, works on its own clock and ultimately I had to adjust to her schedule. As much as I continue to learn from this whole experience, the greatest thing I can recount to you here is that just sitting back, taking care of blooming herbs, fruits and vegetables with my kids and observing the natural progression of our garden has taught our family an all an important lesson: you can't rush perfection.
I heard someone talk recently about why people who plan a big party or event, or work for a long time on a major project at work or home, inevitably experience a sense of disappointment when that big party finally happens or the major project is complete. Scientific studies have shown that it is because we derive the most satisfaction, pleasure and sense of reward from the actual planning and doing more so than the achieving of the final product. It is the journey that feeds our souls more than attaining the ultimate goal. Through My Own Edible Garden our family has discovered that patience truly is a virtue and that the waiting period we used hope would zip by, is really the time to savor, experience and enjoy together.
And just as a P.S., I purposely posted this for the long weekend so you'll hopefully have a bit more time to read it and because I knew you'd lose patience seeing it on a weekday!