Gardening By Instinct

By Teo Spengler | October 23, 2022
Image by Julia Klueva
by Teo Spengler
October 23, 2022

As a new, young gardener, I wanted to do everything right in the garden. That means, during my first year’s gardening, I did way more than was good for the plants and wildlife. As I gained experience, I learned that I could rely on Mother Nature to take care of her botanical children in large part. But I still have plenty to do in the garden.

First Year’s Gardening

I started gardening when I moved to France and it almost killed me. I’m exaggerating, but I was a typical newbie, getting up at dawn to pluck out weeds that had ventured to stick their head up during the night.  And considering that I had more than an acre of land to nurture, it took a lot out of me.

In addition to the veggie garden, I had installed roses – the only roses on the entire mountain. Of course, aphids appeared quickly, and another of my daily gardening tasks in that era was inspecting both sides of every rose leaf. I also planted trees and began a losing battle to keep the wild Basque ponies called pottoks from coming in to eat the new young shoots. By the time August arrived, I needed a long vacation.

Relaxing in the Garden

I have to admit, this is my classic behavior when I start learning something: I am so afraid I will do it wrong that I get felled by the stress. When I arrived in France, I also started to learn to cook and was equally stressed about following recipes, carefully measuring everything three times and setting a timer to be sure I stirred exactly the right amount of minutes.

Fortunately, my traveling companion was a great cook and very casual about it. He never measured anything, sprinkled in the ingredient according to instinct and taught me to stop being so worried about it. This attitude quickly spread over to yard work and I found myself relaxing in the garden; I stopped worrying about precision in my daily gardening tasks and started enjoying it a lot more.

Gardening by Instinct

These days, when I am in France, I still spend a lot of time in the garden, but my daily gardening tasks are history. I consider the weather and my energy level, and quickly determine what would be the best way to spend my garden time.

I call this gardening by instinct, doing whatever strikes me at the moment as most important. The days of fearing weeds are far behind me. So what do I do when I first head to the garden in the morning? I take a stroll around the entire grounds, looking here and there, admiring colors and textures and noting new shoots, spotting mushrooms in season, and letting it all sink in. By the time I am done with the tour, I know exactly what I should do in the garden that day.

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