Patola with Fruits. Copyright: aesta1
Little did I know that starting this garden would yield not only produce but lessons that I keep learning every day.
I started this garden because I love to putter around a garden early morning with my cup of coffee in one hand and a song in my heart, looking at every plant’s daily changes.
As the garden progressed, things kept changing. The changes are not only in the plant’s growth but also in people directly or indirectly involved in the garden.
I was the only one interested in having this garden. I had no idea I started something several in the family love to be involved in. So, this is the first lesson I learned. At that time, my husband and I were still working and could not take substantial time to be in the garden. Other family members took the lead, and I gave up designing and landscaping my garden.
The first time this happened, I resented it. However, I was realistic enough to know that time was not with me. Other people have the interest, the workforce, and the time.
Because of this, the garden expanded and grew beautifully. Different people used it for their interests, so the garden became a series of beautiful memories. At one time, sunflowers filled it, becoming the setting of celebrations and photo opportunities.
These days, plots of different kinds of vegetables grace it, yielding produce for our consumption and the market. The garden is now earning little to defray its maintenance and development expenses.
Black Beans and Corn. Copyright: aesta1
One of the lessons I have learned is that a garden requires time and presence. In the Tropics, where plants grow or die fast when not watered, you must keep your watch or lose some expensive plants. Until the plants take root, you must give them care.
When the plants start producing, your job is not over. They come in abundance that you can hardly harvest them at their peak. There’s a time when they’re just suitable for cooking. Not too ripe or mature and not too young. The gardeners also told me that with some plants, you couldn’t leave the fruits to mature on the vines as that would stop them from growing new shoots. When the plants are healthy, the produce is so abundant that you can’t eat them all, so you need to share or sell them. I was appalled one day when I spent hours harvesting string beans, and all the vendors paid for it when I sent it to the market was a little less than $2. So two hours or probably more of my day was only worth that much? I was discouraged, but the benefits of eating fresh produce gave me hope and a new resolve.
Squash and Okra. Copyright: aesta1
There is satisfaction in having your garden. Every morning, I watch for new blooms, shoots, or fruits. In the tropics, it is fast to grow native varieties. Aside from eating fresh produce, I get to help others. One of these vendors comes regularly, and she picks the vegetables she would cook and sell for the workers at the irrigation close to us. She has eight kids and a husband who cannot support the family. But this lady wanted all her kids to go to school and earn degrees later. So, she does whatever she can to achieve her dream. She picks up what she wants and gives our gardener a fair price when she comes. Sometimes, she has only so much money, and she would tell us she’ll share more next time. Do I bother? No, I am happy that this person works hard to improve her life and that of her children.
So, we keep investing in the garden, giving us produce and joy. We couldn’t be happier.