Apr 232019

What do birdseed, potato eyes, and peach pits have in common? Not much — unless you share my obsession with letting things (and animals and people) grow to their highest potential.

For years I have kidded Favorite Husband about being the king of compost. He builds bins and saves scraps and carries the mess out of the house every day. And, when it’s time to plant things, he willingly shovels the stuff to its final destination. If not king, his efforts are worthy of some sort of title.

When we first moved to the South, my gardening efforts were, at best, pathetic. Aside from an abundance of painful sand spurs, I didn’t know what would grow. The Florida sun and I burned up a lot of plants. I struggled with the idea of my growing seasons having been turned virtually upside down. This former New Englander had a hard time learning to protect my plants in summer months and forgetting about the process in the fall.

I subscribed to an online permaculture group that encouraged me to take my time and to build soil where there was only sand. Not a patient person by nature, I found some solace in the fact that the fried plants could receive a second life by becoming part of the dirt, helping others to grow.

I found some solace in the fact that the fried plants could receive a second life Click To Tweet

Isn’t that a lot like what happens when humans begin to undergo a radical change of some sort? Initially, we rely on trial and error, going solo, and making a lot of needless mistakes. Like brandy new gardens in the South, there’s lots of getting burned. But, also like the garden, those mistakes eventually become food for growth. And, if we’re smart, we make our way to others for guidance. Ultimately, those who have been helped can provide shelter for others — perhaps to help them burn a bit less while they are beginning the journey.

But, also like the garden, those mistakes become food for growth. Click To Tweet

But you’re probably wondering about the birdseed and the peach pits. I sure would be.

Usually a competent gardener, I grew frustrated when it looked like things wouldn’t grow here. I tired of throwing good money after bad in search of seeds that would help our pitiful soil-building efforts. Well, those permies were right. Things eventually began to grow. I finally noticed that the seeds dropping from the bird feeder — the volunteers — seemed to develop a life of their own. Regardless of the feeder placement, those seeds sprouted and grew — sometimes even turning in to sunflowers.

The volunteers seemed to develop a life of their own. Click To Tweet

So, pragmatic at heart, I decided to sow birdseed on every single bare spot in the yard. And it worked. The effort was rewarded with tall seedy grasses, lots of sunflowers and a bunch of bees.

Finally on the right track, some of these rogue plants were tall enough to shelter other, smaller seedlings. Marigolds began to poke up through the dirt as did several herbs. Sprouted sweet potatoes and eyes from baby whites encouraged us to try more and different types of planting.

And the peach pits? They come from a prolific little tree, surpassing all expectations after recently moving to a less squirrel-friendly part of the yard. The fruit is tiny but delish; we can’t seem to let go of all of those lovely, fresh pits. Although we probably won’t be creating a peach orchard, we’ll figure out how to start some of them and give the tiny trees away to others.

Because you see, when a person or a thing is determined to grow, the best we can do is get out of the way and let it.



  6 Responses to “Let ’em Grow — In Spite of Themselves”

  1. OH Andrea! I so understand what you’re saying when you talked about being “upside down.” As an ex-pat Canadian living in VA, let me tell you that even after 23 years, I still am late for everything gardening: planting, picking, harvesting, etc.
    So a garden for me has never been a success except for the exceptional potted tomato plants. 😉
    I LOVE your birdseed idea and will try it out this weekend. I’ll let you know how it turned out.

  2. Mother Nature is a grand teacher, isn’t she? Thanks for sharing your pearls of wisdom.

  3. Thanks for your wisdom Andrea! I really enjoyed reading this and being reminded that much in life is out of our control, Yes, we can plant the seed for a person or a plant, it is out of our hands whether growth occurs.

  4. The years that I gardened in earnest were the years of my own greatest growth. You can’t beat Mother Nature for a great teacher.

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