Thursday, April 19, 2007

Making Room For Real Growth

I don't have a green thumb, by any stretch of the imagination. I bring home stray plants that follow me home and I beg and plead and promise, "I'll water it everyday, I'll fertilize it, I'll re-pot it when it gets too big, I promise! Pleeeeease let me keep it". In about 5 weeks I have a brown twig sticking up out of a little pot of moldy mud. My main gardening fault is that I have no stomach for the butchery that is required. I plant my little row of carrot seeds and happily watch their little green shoots popping up from the ground. Then I read on the back of the seed packet that I'm supposed to "thin" them out (which means pulling up and killing more than half of my new little babies that I worked so hard to plant). I can never bring myself to pull those innocent little shoots that hold so much potential. I leave them there, hoping that the seed packet was just joking, and give them lots of water. After about a month I still have a pretty little row of green shoots, but they seem to have stopped growing. In reality I have actually prevented every single one of my precious green shoots from reaching their potential and might as well not have planted a single one to begin with. I also have the same issues with "pinching back". I started to buy the pre-grown tomato plants from Home Depot so I wouldn't have to suffer the death of young shoots. But the instruction card tells me that I must "pinch off several inches" from my beautiful plant. I look at my strong looking tomato plant and I reason to myself, I can't pinch it, what if I kill it? I'm sure the first wild tomato plant wasn't "pinched off" and it survived. So I allow my plant to grow without limits, I will not be responsible for holding this energetic plant back in life. It grows to amazing heights and I am proud that I broke the social mores of gardening. It grows, and grows, and yet there is only one tiny tomato on my behemoth bush, and it never turns red. Covering my face with my hands, I weep because what I thought was plant freedom was really just undirected and unused energy going to waste. So, after all the useless deaths, and wasted fertilizer, have I learned my lesson? I have been growing an avocado tree (you know, where you stick toothpicks in an avocado seed and stick it in water) and it is actually getting somewhere! I did research on how to grow them this time. Well, I got to the dreaded part of "pinching back" new growth... I put it off (it still makes me queasy, I know I'll never be a plant surgeon in this life), and put it off. Then, just a few days ago, I took a deep breath, placed my fingernails around the top of my lovely, fragile plant, gave a little moan of apology, and pinched. I almost feinted. Every day I have watched my plant, waiting for the amputation to cause gangrene and then the death of my little guy. To my amazement, my plant suddenly has leaves! It had grown "leaves" before but they were supper tiny and are just barely noticeable going up the stem, but the two tiny leaves under the amputation just started growing, and fast! I am starting to realize that some times we have to cut back in order to have the energy to really produce anything of real worth. I am starting to look at my own life and I am seeing many areas of my life that maybe need pinching back, or thinning out. Am I choking myself, or expending useless energy, when I could be producing valuable fruit? Well, watch out world, Lizzy has her gardening gloves on and a pair of pruning shears and she is ready to GROW!


An Ordinary Mom said...

Too bad Scribbit already held her April Write-Away Contest. The theme was growing and I think you could have won with this masterpiece! Very insightful!

Laura said...

What an insight! I've been wondering how to grow an avacado tree. Even though you related your growing experiences to your life and cutting back, I think I learned a little more about gardening from your blog. I think we should send it to Better Homes And Gardens.