What gardening taught me about self care.

I have never been good at growing plants. I couldn’t even keep store bought flowers alive for more than a couple of days. Yet, here I was accepting two small pots with tiny seedlings from my best friend as I prepared to shelter in place due to COVID-19. I thought it might be a good idea to learn how to grow things and be more self sustainable. Plus, I knew I was about to be inside indefinitely and had time on my hands to start a new project.

My bestie gave me simple instructions: Water when the dirt starts to appear dry. After 4 weeks replant them in a larger pot. That seemed simple enough. I put two chairs on the small patio of our apartment and placed the tiny pots on top of them. Watering the plants became a part of my quarantine activity checklist. Bake something new. Check. Declutter a closet. Check. Order a kitchen item I don’t really need. Check. Water the plants if they seem dry. Check.

Honestly, I didn’t expect those seedlings to last more than a week. And here I was in week 2 with a plant that was a litter taller than last week. Then that turned into four weeks. I made it to replanting time! I took a picture and texted my friend , proud of my accomplishment. In her low key petty fashion, she replied, ” What?! I am actually suprised but that’s great!”

After replanting, I stayed committed to caring for the plants. Every day, I would observe them so I could figure out what they needed. If the soil seemed dry, I would add water. If leaves were a certain color, I added plant food. If bugs wouldn’t let them be great, I found ways to keep them away. I would go out on the patio a few times a week soaking in the sunshine and tending to my plant babies. Many times my daughter joined me and it became a quiet, calming ritual.

The plants kept growing and after about 6 weeks, I had a few green beans. I started feeling myself and got some more seedlings from my friend. I now have five plant babies (peppers, green beans, mint, basil, and squash).

Tending to this small garden has brought me back to myself. It has become the most unexpected act of self care. Gardening has been a calm in the middle of the storm that is 2020. It has been a saving grace when I have felt so weary with all that is happening in the world. It has brought a subtle kind of joy.

As I care for these plants, it is an invite to care for myself consistently. To observe and really notice me. To honor what I am feeling, acknowledge what I need, and give it generously to myself.

As my plants have grown, so have I. In so many ways.