How To Measure Success In The Garden

As the chill damp winds of fall begin to appear in the hills of southern New York I begin to reflect on the success and failures of this years gardens. In truth there are a number of ways to gauge the outcome of a years worth of hard work. Some grow for profit, others to stock the cupboard and freezer for winter. Some grow simply as a hobby, an excuse to dig in the dirt. I'm sure those of you reading all have your own reasons for taking part in the optimism associated with putting a seed in the cold ground each spring.

This year my focused changed a bit. My small plot was rather neglected last year due to politics and similar pursuits. Over the course of the last two years I kept track of nearly every ounce of produce that came out of our garden and compared cost to that of the USDA's going rates. This year though it struck me that I am missing the real reason for gardening. Of course there are a number of financial and health benefits associated with such a pleasurable pastime but the real success is apparent when I watch my young children play among the sunflowers and corn. Watching them nibble on fresh herbs and tomatoes in the peak heat of the summer while they ask questions about the world around them is truly success worth measuring. Seeing their eyes light up when complimented on their hard work or the pride that develops when they come up with a creative solution for a standing problem. Sharing the harvest during our daily meals and giving food and seed to friends and neighbors goes further than any statistic I could possible keep in a yearly log.

There were a number of opportunities this year for me to learn how to become a better gardener and those were not overlooked on any level. But, most importantly, I learned how to be a better person and father in the garden this year. As Wayne Winterrowd once said, "It often happens to children and sometimes to gardeners that they are given gifts of value of which they do not perceive until much later."

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here 


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