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Finding Courage in an Australian Garden

It’s funny the things that make us Stronger. Braver. Wiser.

Take gardening in Australia for instance.

I grew up in a family of incredible gardeners: grandparents, aunts, Mum, brothers. Every last one of them could turn a bare patch of earth into a lush, verdant oasis in no time flat, yielding copious amounts of produce they then turned into healthy meals and jar after jar of glistening preserves.

Until I moved to Australia I assumed I hadn’t inherited that gift, mostly because I’d never actually tried. My gardening exploits consisted of weeding my Mum’s glorious plantings to earn summer vacation spending money, and growing a few wizened herbs at my water-logged, almost-no-sun apartment.

When I arrived in Australia in October, I was exhausted, sick, and utterly run down in body and spirit. Bear and my friends Katy and Ann urged me to garden, believing it would be healing for me. I knew they were probably right, but having never experienced it, I approached the task with some trepidation.

I started small with herbs and a few flowers. It felt good to dig in the earth and get soaked by accident when I forgot to attach the garden hose properly. For awhile the plants were just tiny green specks in a sea of rich black soil and then one day they started growing and all of a sudden I had basil for pesto, cilantro for curries, and mint and lemon balm for iced tea. Success there gave me courage to try some vegetables. I started with tried and true ones like beans, carrots, and cucumbers, then got brave and tried some new things like chicory, asparagus, and melons.

I definitely made some mistakes along the way. I killed a lemon tree by over-watering, lost peas and carrots by planting them in sour potting soil, and some basil by cutting it back too severely. In the past I would’ve taken those losses to heart, feeling like a failure and taking it as proof that I really shouldn’t garden. But not now.

Living on this dear ol’ farm has freed me from much self-doubt and insecurity as I’ve tackled chores and projects I’ve never attempted in my life. Sometimes my failures are a result of busyness or forgetfulness, but mostly they stem from inexperience or a lack of knowledge or simply circumstances beyond my control like weather, disease, or faulty products.

Learning these things through gardening has helped me respond so much better to trauma and mistakes in the rest of my life. Of course I still fuss at myself when I mess up, but I don’t crumple like I used to. I still get frustrated and anxious and afraid, but such dreadful feelings don’t last as long and I can laugh at myself so much easier. The best part is that learning to be kinder to myself has enabled me to be heaps more patient and understanding with others. That makes me smile.

I never imagined these lessons would be the result of sticking a few shriveled seeds into the dirt, but I’m sure glad they are.

Now I’m going to go pick some baby asparagus for an afternoon snack.

What is your favorite area of growth you’ve seen in your life lately?

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Kitchen Butterfly - Oh Krista, having met you, I feel this so deeply. Its amazing how many parallels there are in life. Gardening can help you live a more courageous, hopeful life – help you let go, be you, appreciate yourself. Number 1 on my list of things to do this year is to love myself, and take care of myself. Stay well and may 2012 bring you great and reassuring things. Stay well and strong and continue to enjoy the fruits of your labour

Mary - Your garden is lovely and you are so lucky to have one. I love gardening but have no space. πŸ™ digging in the soil and trying to find what works best is all part of the process.

Kate Turner - Good for you for taking this on, Krista! I have a garden here in Oxford but I too feel a bit intimidated by the task – you’ve inspired me to tackle it when the weather gets warmer, though. I’m so pleased living on the farm has brough you such joy.

Katie@Cozydelicious - Your veggies look amazing! What fantastic photos!Β  I have always had garden anxiety but am determined to finally have a successful kitchen garden come summer!

erin - I love seeing and reading about your strengths. Β It’s amazing to hear not just what you are capable of, but what you believe you are capable of.

Katy Stewart - the pictures are beautiful, Krista, so glad that you’re enjoying your garden πŸ™‚ In many ways, I think gardening shows that somewhere is home – you’re quite literally putting down roots and reaping the rewards of your labor. I’m looking forward to the day that I have a garden to truly call my own.

Anonymous - A lovely post Krista. I too find that doing physical things, like gardening or for me, an occasional “craft” session helps me slow down and appreciate all the things I’m capable of doing…and it alsoΒ helps me be more patient with others πŸ™‚ A great resolution to have for the new year πŸ™‚ thanks for sharing, a very uplifting post!Β 

Valerie - Gorgeous garden, Krista. Nurturing plants is kind of like natures own form of therapy. πŸ™‚

Wishing you all the best this year! xo

Mary Bergfeld - It sounds like you have found your way home:-). Your garden is wonderful. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

Joanne - I’m so glad you’ve found so much happiness and success in gardening! All those fresh veggies MUST do a body good.Β  As must the peacefulness of the process.

Ulysses S. Rant - Considering that you are easily one of the kindest people I know, I can barely imagine what this kind of improvement would look like. But I’m happy that you’re feeling so much better! Have fun with all that gardening (better you than me…bad memories from childhood, LOL…)

Krista - Participation is an excellent word, Val. πŸ™‚ The more I think about it the more I love it – participation in life, in growth, in relationships, in the world. Wonderful word! πŸ™‚

Krista - Participation is an excellent word, Val. πŸ™‚ The more I think about it the more I love it – participation in life, in growth, in relationships, in the world. Wonderful word! πŸ™‚

Barbara - Wonderful, Krista! When I lived in Michigan, I always had a small garden. I took such pleasure there.
Happy New Year to you!

Rita - Oh I love your rambling tart Krista… So so so so happy for you! πŸ™‚

Dewi - Oh my, this is truly beautiful Krista. You know I plant them in my own vegetable garden as well. Love the vibrant color of the chards πŸ™‚Β 

P.S Hope this year 2012 bring you happiness!!!!!

Ayngelina - I love gardening, there is something about contributing to growth that is so satisfying.

Jeanne @ CookSister! - Oh, how I envy your veg garden!!Β  I used to grow a mean collection of chillies back home in SA but they are really not that happy in London… too chilly (pun intended!).Β  Ourgarden is jusut too shady to grow most vegetables – everythign gets powdery mildew and don’t gete me started on tomato blight!!Β  Aaah well, at last my tulips and daffodils are pretty in the Spring… and I can grow roses from cuttings πŸ™‚

bellini - With gardening comes great satisfaction in many ways. . My word for 2012 is Participate which can mean many things so we will see how that got and I my have a story of growth to share.

Krista - Thank you, Jenny! It IS satisfying and it makes me glad to know I’m putting healthy things into my body – organic and good. πŸ™‚

Krista - Oh, it makes me happy to hear that, Cathy. πŸ™‚ It makes me smile to think of you puttering in your garden in Italy while I’m puttering in mine here in Oz. πŸ™‚

jenny@atasteoftravel - I’m impressed with your vege garden, Krista. It must be so satisfying to pick veges for lunch or dinner that you have grown yourself without even thinking of the other benefits gardening has given you. You obviously love it. Enjoy

cathy.lpowell - I am happy for you Krista that your vege garden has been successful.Β  I took come from a family of gardeners and sometimes wonder if I haven’t inherited their green thumbs.Β  Take our winter vegetable patch for instance.Β  This year is the first time we have done it and we have made mistakes (like planting stuff too late).Β  We are still eating lettuces that we planted in October (although some have suffered from the frost).Β 

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