Friday, November 22, 2013

Life Lessons Reinforced by Gardening

Gardening often reinforces life lessons that were learned in school, at work, or from your parents. Here are a few examples:

Stay Flexible

Of course it helps to be physically flexible; but, it's even more important to be mentally flexible to be willing to see things differently, to change plans based on new information, or to reorder priorities as circumstances change.

First Things First

In his hugely popular book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey lists putting first things first as a key attribute of effectiveness. Simply stated, putting first things first suggests that we should do what is important vs. what might seem to be urgent.

An Ounce of Prevention

Sure, it's a cliche but a lot of cliche last because there's a lot of truth to them. Gardening offers all kinds of support to the cliche that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Two activities that remind us of this truism are early season spraying of fruit trees and early season mulching of flower and vegetable gardens. Both activities take just a little bit of time, but pay off with big dividends later in the season and prevent a lot of extra mid-season work, as well.
Break Big Jobs into Smaller Pieces

We are well aware of the fact that sometimes we procrastinate when facing a big job, especially if the job includes some elements that are less than enjoyable or involve some degree of uncertainty. Big jobs are easier to start, and easier to accomplish, if we break them down into smaller pieces. The fact is that most big jobs can be broken into smaller pieces; and very few big jobs need to be accomplished in one continuous flow of effort. Fall garden clean up can be viewed this way, as a bunch of little jobs not one single task that has to be finished the same day or weekend that it's started. It makes the job much easier, and you will get started much sooner than if committed to doing it all at once.

Life Includes Some Luck

The reality of life, and of gardening, is that there's always some degree of luck involved both good and bad. Volunteers such as unplanted flowers in the vegetable garden - that offer a pleasant surprise are good luck. Weather extremes or a disease or pest, in spite of all of our preventative actions, are sometimes just plain bad luck. In life, as in gardening, we can be grateful for the good luck, and learn from the bad.

Hard Work Often Pays Off

Gardening, like life, isn't always easy. There's certainly some effort required to enjoy the rewards. (For some of us, the effort in gardening IS the reward exercise, being outside, observing the miracles of nature.) For some of us, at least parts of our gardening are work. Building and maintaining good soil takes some effort; but, the reward of having good soil is significant.

Smart Work Almost Always Pays Off

It's often been said work smarter, not harder. For example, building good soil can be hard work but, it doesn't need to be. The smart approach to building good soil is simply to add compost year after year. Of course, heavy clay soil may need to have some sand added as well. But, you don't need to dig out your clay soil and bring in loads of topsoil to replace it. That would be hard not necessarily smart work!

There's Always Something to Learn

In life, as in gardening, we'll never know it all. There will always be things to learn, mysteries to solve, and obstacles to overcome. But this is a great time to be alive and a great time to be a gardener. For one thing, the Internet has made learning a whole lot easier for most of us!

Writer for Mantis and Mantis Owners

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