Gardening Blooms While We Shelter-in-place

By Gwenn Voelckers

Have you been to a gardening center or nursery lately?

Vegetable seeds are in short supply, if not sold out altogether. People are revisiting the basics during this coronavirus lockdown. Many are returning to gardening — especially vegetable gardening — given slim pickings at the super market.

As a vegetable gardener for years, I see this as a precious silver lining in this otherwise trying time.

And June is the perfect time for folks to dig in, get their hands dirty and grow their own vegetables at home.

It’s also a good time to reflect the many life lessons that gardening offers to those who live alone. It has taught me the value of planning, preparation, patience and pleasure — four essential “P’s” for a bountiful garden and … a bountiful life.

Fertile ground exists in each of us, and a little tending can produce beautiful results.

Here’s what I have learned:

Plan. Realizing the garden of your dreams begins in your imagination, followed by careful planning. Diagram your garden and it will help you avoid planting onions on top of potatoes or mistaking basil for a weed.

Likewise, envisioning your life goals and committing them to writing can help you flourish and grow.

Cultivate. Good, cultivated soil promotes healthy, deep roots. When you add fertilizer to your garden you are rewarded with abundance. Adding essential ingredients to the foundation of your dream garden (and your dream life) will nourish all that follows.

You can’t go wrong with nutritious food, a walk in nature, a good book, soothing music, or saying “yes” to a new adventure that’s been tugging at your heart.

Plant. So many choices! Revisit your plan and embed your carefully selected seeds or seedlings with a tender, loving touch, being careful not to overcrowd or plant more than you can manage.

And remember: We reap what we sow, so follow your dreams. Plant a tomato and you get a tomato; plant a dandelion and you get a dandelion. Seed your future with healthy choices that promote well-being.

Weed. We all need room to breathe and space in which to blossom. It holds true for your garden and your life. Gardening is all about consistent caretaking. Slack off, even for a few days, and all things unwelcome show up and take root.

Weed out the negativity and any dream-stealing toxins that contaminate your life, dash your hopes, or spoil your fun. When you pull out the bad, you can more easily focus on the good in your life.

Prune. When weeding is not enough, a major pruning may be in order. A job, relationship, or home that no longer satisfies or meets your needs may need a hard look. It may be time to pull out that pair of “life loppers.”

Mulch. Mulching keeps weeds at bay and the ground moist, and returns nutrients to the soil. It also adds a finishing touch.

Mulch offers a blanket of protection, in the same way that regular doctor appointments, insurances, and safety measures protect our lives. We can learn a lot from mulching.

Wait. We all know that “good things come to those who wait.” Enjoy the gradual unfolding of a garlic scape, a lettuce leaf, an idea, or a friendship. When you exercise patience, life can be savored and more deeply appreciated.

Each year, I look to my garden to remind myself that growth takes time.

Enjoy. Before you know it, your labor of love and patience will pay off. Take pleasure in the transformation as the colors, textures, and fragrances emerge. Too often, we fail to “stop and smell the roses” in our gardens and in our lives.

So get busy, then step back and take a good look. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as admiring what you’ve accomplished. It’s reason to celebrate!

By osmosis, gardening has taught me how to take better care of myself. I have absorbed its rich messages and learned how to nurture my inner garden and growth as a woman on her own.

I encourage you to grab a spade and join me. Beauty, growth, and an energizing sense of renewal can be yours, season after season after season.

Gwenn Voelckers leads Alone and Content empowerment workshops for women held in Mendon and is the author of “Alone and Content: Inspiring, empowering essays to help divorced and widowed women feel whole and complete on their own.” For information about workshops, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak, call 585-624-7887, email, or visit