This is not the first vegetable garden I have tended, but it is the most intentional. There was a time I would buy pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers without a thought about unintended consequences. Without a concern for the long-term effects and the wider-world implications of my mindless, grow-the-most-as-fast-as-possible approach to gardening.
Now I think about the health of pollinators. The composition of soil. The long-term benefits of composting. Companion plants. Plant diversity. Water conservation. The consequences of over-fertilization and run-off. Early this spring, before we had even built the first raised bed, I felt overwhelmed by the concept of creating a more sustainable garden .
But with each action--building the beds, spreading the compost, erecting a fence, sowing seeds, getting dirt under my fingernails as I planted--my anxiety dissipated, step-by-step. A lot can still go wrong. Aphids are likely to attack my tomato plants. Days of rain may encourage fungal growth. The hard reality is that things will go wrong in the garden. But that doesn't diminish the wonder of watching seed, soil, sun and water work together to send green pea tendrils twining around their trellis, or squash blossoms from popping open in a golden burst, or radishes from doubling in size almost overnight.
I feel more connected with the earth when I sink my finger into soil to probe for moisture. I feel more humble, more grateful, when I understand intimately how the food I consume is produced. I feel more hopeful about the future when I see what can be created from a handful of seeds.
What grows in my garden? Me.