I have found all sorts of things in the ground in which I planned to grow my food. The afore mentioned cement chunks and plastic plant tags have presented themselves in great abundance, but I have also found bottle caps, sardine cans, random chunks of plastic and packaging, a horseshoe and my most recent favorite, an old rusty razor blade (good thing I wear gloves). While finding these things buried in my yard has given rise to more than a little frustration inside this otherwise mild mannered gardener, they have also served as a great reminder to me of another lesson I have learned, the ground I’m working isn’t really mine.
In saying this, I’m not trying to espouse some political view on land ownership but simply stating the truth that this land will not be mine forever. Eventually, someday, I will be gone and someone else will take up stewardship of my little plot, and when that happens they will inherit everything I have ever done here. Any short cuts I ever made on house repairs or other building projects will be theirs. Any time I tried to save a few bucks by not disposing of waste properly will be theirs. Or any time I was careless and didn’t make sure all the bits of garbage where picked up when I was done with a project, those will also be theirs.
I find the idea that I am passing on something, instead of just creating a little oasis for myself, adds a new level of thought to my gardening. It motivates me not only to be more careful with my own behavior, but to make sure I take the time to clean up the carelessness of previous owners. As I reset boards in the garden, lay pavers or dig holes for new plants (cleaning up the soil as I go), I like to think about how someday another young gardener will be digging in that same dirt, and her work will be a little easier because I passed on the land a little better than I found it.
What has gardening taught you?