While shoving a few seeds in pots and washing bugs from the crevice of lettuce leaves hardly qualifies me as a gardener, I’m finding this growing malarkey so addictive and relaxing. With all that learning and bumbling error, gardening is a great metaphor for life. But I know most people come here for the lard busting chat, so it’s time for another episode of… Dodgy Weight Loss Analogies!
It’s best to start small
I nearly went beserk on my first visit to the garden shoppe – OMG obscure berries and fancy tomatoes and potatoes with girly names! We should get chickens too! And keep a goat in the bathroom!
It was just like the old dieter’s mindset: Must lose 2 kilos, revolutionise lifetime of crappy eating habits and do 5 gym visits by Sunday!
So I slowed down – starting out small meant less chance of falling into a defeated heap two weeks later. I internetted “easy plants for absolute beginners” and settled on salad leaves and herbs for my debut.
Knowledge is power
If you’re out of your depth you can’t be afraid to ask for help. In this case it’s been my father-in-law, gardening blogs and “The Kitchen Gardener” by Alan Titchmarsh – a very straightforward book that explains the basics in gentle, encouraging tones. Whenever a plant does something weird or looks close to death our mantra is, “Ask Titchy!” The good thing is, the more you learn the more confident you become and eventually/hopefully you’ll get bold enough to test your own thoughts and ideas.
You gotta get dirrrrty
You could shove seeds in the ground then admire a la distance while hoping for the best. But if you want sexy results you have to get mucky. You have to nuture your babies, water them regularly and patrol for snails. As with lard-busting, it all boils down to time, sweat and toil.
From little things big things grow
At first it looks so pointless and insignificant – a broken pot, some dirt and £1 packet of seeds. Then you spy a tiny hopeful shoot pushing through. Then suddenly a few weeks later you’re greeted with a lush spray of poncy salad leaves. Just like when you start your healthy quest, a brisk walk and forsaking Pop Tarts for porridge can feel like it will never amount to anything. But give it time and patience and those small efforts sprout into bigger rewards.
Mind your own business
It’s easy to get Garden Envy when the neighbours are retired and have more time and fancy equipment and fancy flowers and whatnot and all you have is a rusty spade and a half-dead strawberry cutting. I was no stranger to lard-busting jealousy either – She’s losing weight faster than me! She’s got a personal trainer! She doesn’t have to work! Rah rah rah!
But you have to focus on your own situation and budget and channel that energy into making the most of the tools you have to hand. You might have a second-hand DVD instead of a personal trainer… but you still have YOU and your own imagination.
PERFECTIONISM IS FUTILE
Holy moly this is a lesson I need to learn. So often I’m frozen into inaction for fear being undeserving or doing something wrong or rubbishly. But the gardening is showing me that it doesn’t bloody matter if you cock up. It’s more fun to let go of the outcome and plunge your hands into the soil. What’s the worst that could happen? The plant might cark it but you only lose a few hours of your time or a few pennies for the seedling. Failure is your friend. Embrace ineptitude!
Some things are beyond your control
You can be diligent with your diet or pamper the hell out of your plants, but sometimes the weather turns nasty or a pheasant craps on your head or a snail gnaws away at your resolve. But at least you’re DOIN’ IT, baby.