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Gardening From The Heart
Gardening From The Heart
Do you have a first memory of gardening? Mine is picking green beans with my mother in elementary school. I remember how crisp and juicy they were when you picked the pods right off the vine, and I remember feeling a sense of wonder and mystery knowing that just a couple of months ago we were putting little seeds in the ground. I have a lot of memories like that: watching gleefully as pumpkin and watermelons grew, going to a U-pick farm with my grandparents, and now just the other day, planting this year's spring crop of lettuce and peas with my wife on a rare yet wonderful spring afternoon.

There is something about gardening that binds us with the ones we love. It is an act that we as people have doing with our children and spouses for thousands of years. The very goal of planting a garden itself is communal, for a garden tended with care will reap a harvest so big that you have to share with friends and neighbors!

But what if this year is going to be your first garden? Or what if this is the year you finally use those planting beds that have been sitting unused for years? Here are a few tips that I might offer to make your first gardening experience a success:

- Start Small. Gardens are work, and almost always take more of it than you first expect. Before you till up your entire backyard with dreams of creating your own overflowing cornucopia, consider how much time you will be able to spend each week watering and weeding, not to mention hunting slugs. Start with three or four beds, and you will find you have more time to prepare and maintain them with the care a garden needs to thrive.

- Start Simple. Stick with just a handful of veggies your first year. Lettuce, Spinach, Peas, and Tomato varieties have always yielded easy success for me. Try these, learn from what hurts or helps them, and then add another bed and a couple more plant varieties next year.

- Involve Others. The greatest wonder of gardening has always been how it connects us with others. Try to include family, friends, or neighbors in this year's garden, whether it's having your spouse help weed, your children harvest, or even just sharing your veggies or flowers with neighbors. There is an old Swedish Proverb that says 'Shared Joy is Double Joy', so increase your experience by incorporating loved ones in the garden.


Nathan Nelson is a Certified Professional Horticulturist, and is owner of Nelson Plants a plant brokerage and delivery service in Southwest Washington.