What I have learned about nurturing growth as I have tried my hand at homegrown tomatoes.
Like many of you, I have tried growing a variety of vegetables in my home garden. Garden might be an overstatement. We have a lovely yard, but it was all landscaped and fully growing by the time we bought the house. I was reduced to a small gravel patch where I could try container gardening, but I have been giving it my best shot. Here are 3 things I have learned about nurturing growth, in tomatoes and in myself.
This year I went the extra mile and grew my own seeds. About 30 San Marzano seeds to be exact. I was certain they wouldn't come up. When they all did I was pleasantly surprised, and like any novice gardener I thought the more the merrier. As they continued to grow they became a bit leggy. When I transplanted them into the soil I planted them deep, but I put 2-3 seedlings in each pot. The pots were so large. The seedlings so small.
Things were going well until about a month ago when the plants really began to grow. They became a bit crowded. I started worrying about air circulation, and if the pots were big enough for the roots. Well, I have begun that process of thinning back. It's much more painful to thin back branches that have tomato blossoms on them than it would have been to just thin back the seedlings in March.
Often in life I feel like I can plant "all the seedlings". I can take on that commitment, plan that party, run that errand, make that dinner, finish that work assignment, fold that laundry, etc. etc. etc. When life is going smooth, maybe I can do all of that, but when life gets full and busy, I usually wished I had thinned out sooner before I became overextended.
It's remarkable how little water my tomatoes needed in May. They were small, the weather was cool, the sun gentle. Now I am watering these container tomatoes twice a day. The plants are infinitely larger and the weather is brutally hot. It would never work to assume I could maintain a set regiment throughout the entire growing season. I have to adapt to the current conditions.
I am taken off guard sometimes when I treat a stressful time frame in life like I would any other time frame. I assume the 6 hours of sleep, the sporadic meditation, the quick touch and go with my spouse, the hurried meals, will continue to work for me when I'm in a high stress time frame. The truth is, my needs change. I know that sounds so simple, but why do I get blindsided by stressful experiences, assuming (and often shaming) myself that I should be able to manage like "normal"?
High growth, high stress time frames for tomatoes require extra water, extra attention, extra feedings. It's the same for each of us. We can examine the leaves of a tomato plant and see them begin to curl inwards when they are experiencing stress. We need to get better at observing what our signs are for high stress and growth periods. Give yourself some grace and learn to care for and nurture your growth. You aren't attending to yourself so that you can go dormant. You're attending to yourself to prepare for a larger more abundant outpouring. It's not laziness or self indulgence. It's wisdom and nurturance.
This year, many of my first round of tomatoes ended up with end blossom rot. They needed more calcium and more water to help with that calcium uptake. I was left with a bit of a dilemma. What should I do with the tomatoes that have end blossom rot? Some of the larger ones, sure, I can cut off the bottoms and use, but the smaller ones, what about them?
I decided it was better for the plant, to just go through and find the smaller tomatoes with end blossom rot and just tidy up - take them off the vine and free up some space and energy for newer, healthier blossoms.
At first this felt like a desecration to my efforts thus far, after all, I raised these from seedlings, and now I'm just going to throw them away? I have had to exercise a little faith that if I pluck off this subpar tomato, the plant will indeed use that conserved energy to help nurture growth somewhere else.
When I put effort into something and it just isn't' flowing, isn't working, it's really challenging for me to "pluck it off the vine". I want to just wait and see...maybe something will change, maybe it will finally grow. Sometimes I need that extra time to observe and learn, but many times I simply need more faith. I need the faith to make that hard decision, that if I take this off my plate, that somehow, the universe will offer me another opportunity somewhere, sometime.
Tidying up can be painful. Faith is sometimes painful, but faith is necessary for our wise development.
What have you been learning about in your garden? I'd really love to hear in the comments.
Love and light to all of us who are trying to do the work to nurture our growth!
Juli Larsen, CMI
Certified Meditation Instructor