Guest Post: Smriti D. Isaac // @sdisaac
I have a small vegetable garden in my backyard, and this is my third consecutive-- and successful-- year of vegetable gardening. I am inspired to get my hands, knees, feet, and sometimes even my face dirty in this enterprise called gardening for a number of reasons.
But first, I must offer full disclosure, that contrary to common belief, are NOT the reasons or the inspiration for my interest in this hobby. I do not garden because because I am a tree-hugging environmentalist who abhors processed foods, and who has vowed to eat only organically grown produce. Neither do I garden because I believe I might be the next poster-child for the Whole Foods movement. My inspiration to garden stems from four distinct sources:
The foremost reason I am inspired to engage in tending a humble vegetable garden is because of the love of gardening that my mother instilled in me many moons ago. Like the PBS motto "Watch and Learn," little did I realize that when I was much younger watching my mother gushing passionately over the sugar-snap peas, spinach, and bitter-gourd, among other things that she grew in my native homeland, India, I was "watching and learning", even though I was doing no more than merely watching her do the work and later would enjoy the cooked fruits of her labor at our kitchen table. But even then, unbeknownst to me, there was a seed being planted within me to instill the love of growing beautiful things from the ground! And many years later, that seed has germinated and taken root to inspire me to do what my mother did so beautifully: plant, grow, harvest, prepare, and feed her family. My mother has undoubtedly been an inspiration for my love of gardening, and I can only hope that my own children might follow after me, and perhaps become inspired someday to start a garden of their own. Incidentally, my mother gardened in a small town in the northern plains of India. Today, I garden in a small town in the upper-midwestern part of the United States.
Second, I love to garden for a very simple and selfish reason: I relish the pleasure of enjoying the freshest, tastiest, and brightest of vegetables, and in thinking up different ways to cook, bake, broil, steam, and grill these wonderful vegetables. My love of fresh and tasty food is a huge inspiration to put in all the hard work that goes into months of tending to a vegetable garden. Fresh food for yourself and your loved ones-- this, in and of itself is an inspiration, hands down! And of course, as the season approaches its peak, there's always those last few weeks, when you have just too many tomatoes and peppers, and you start to give them away to friends and neighbors-- and you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who'll decline your giveaways, by the way!
Third, beyond the physical pleasure that comes from eating great food, there is also the immense gratification one has in knowing that that one tomato, eggplant, or hot banana pepper came about from many weeks of love and care showered on each plant by way of all that watering, weeding, watching, and waiting! Also, I suppose it isn't too much of a stretch of anyone's imagination to realize that there are other greater life skills of patience and endurance that come from such watching and watching! Physical and spiritual gratification from one act? You can't beat that!
Finally, I am inspired to cultivate a vegetable garden because I view it to be the most essential and primitive form of creating art. Each seed that sprouts into a seedling, and continues to put forth flowers, and then fruit, is nothing short of playing the unique role of gardener/artist. To have a hand in this awesome design of nature's bounty is also an inspiration to plant, grow and harvest each year. Take a look at these images, and you'll see what I mean. These pictures were taken yesterday-- can you only imagine what these gorgeous green peppers (that are actually the orange-colored variety), the glistening purple Ichiban eggplant, and these heirloom tomatoes that are a pale green today, but are destined to become a scarlet red in a few days-- might look like ten days from now?! Just these pictures alone are inspiration to keep gardening!
And in all of this, I haven't even mentioned all the health benefits that come from gardening-- that could very well have been number one on my "inspiration-list", but for me, all these others outweigh that one, albeit significant. Or even the financial benefits of saving on your grocery-bill-- and who isn't inspired to save money?
So, here's to gardening! May this post be an inspiration to you to consider starting your own garden, be it in your backyard or in a container on your balcony. And see for yourself the joys you will reap, and the inspiration YOU will offer to someone else!