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The Amateur Gardener: It really is rewarding

I'm having a lot of success with my garden this year, despite my doubts
Amateur-gardener-4
Dillon drops by the community gardens for a casual late-July harvest.

Something I heard a lot when I was just getting into gardening (and when I was feeling discouraged after a rough May) was, "hang in there, gardening is so rewarding." While I understood the sentiment, I never gave it much thought because my primary reason for growing a garden wasn't to feel good, it was to pick my own produce to eat throughout the summer.

There's nothing I love more in the summer than making fresh salads everyday and experimenting with homemade dressings, and that experience is improved when it's made from produce I didn't buy at the store. Still, I'm aware I also got into gardening because it seemed like a challenge, it seemed like something that a dude like me would fail miserably at, and I wanted to give it a go and see if I can learn a new skill. 

Well, it turns out that the old sayings are popular for a reason — gardening really does feel good, and it's certainly rewarding. First of all, I'm having a lot of success with my garden this year, despite my doubts. I've already picked and eaten five zucchini, I have ate at least six bunches of chard, and I have the promise of endless amounts of tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, and peas to look forward to soon.

I just ate the first baby eggplant from my garden, a venture that definitely felt like a pipe dream when I first planted it. Of course, had I known the eggplants I was planting were of the baby variety, I'm not sure I would have bothered because it's hard to get excited about grilling a single, bite-sized vegetable.

Perhaps the most unlikely triumph has been my basil. If you have followed along since the beginning, you'll remember that I killed not one, but three basil plants in the first couple weeks of the season. I felt awful, but for some reason I decided to double down and buy one more plant. Not only has that plant flourished and provided my salads with wonderful flavour all summer long, one of the initial fatalities also magically revived itself and showed me miracles do exist. 

Despite the dopamine boost that comes from seeing small, round seeds become full-sized vegetables, gardening has taught me patience, and increased my confidence. Losing hope with any new hobby after just two weeks is silly, and that's especially the case when it comes to growing a garden. If you take the time to weed, water, and foster your garden as often as you can, you'll see the fruits of your labour. How much fruit depends on how much work you put into it, with a little bit of luck from the weather gods, but you will at least have something to look forward to. After a while, you'll stop expecting anything and will just do it because you enjoy doing so - a simple, meaningful task that you have to step outside and take the time to do. 

It also teaches you there are some processes that will succeed regardless of how little faith you have in yourself. This sounds dramatic, but there's something about going blind into a hobby or challenge you feel ill prepared for that does wonders for the soul. Gardening, like most things, isn't that hard if you just try it, and stop coming up with excuses not to. 

If you've planted a garden this year, I hope you've experienced some of the feelings I've wrote about here. And if you didn't, then 2022 is your year to find out just how rewarding gardening really is. 


Email reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca