Our society doesn’t really love mistakes. It’s ok to have minor mishaps, but you should always try to quickly redeem yourself, learn from your errors, try again — and succeed.
But just to try something out for fun, with little regard for the perfect outcome? It’s pretty rebellious!
Our work lives leave us with very little room for errors. It’s not really professional to experiment with your career. Also, a significant portion of hobbies, especially sports, aim for competitions or have some kind of measuring system for whether you are doing it right or not.
And of course, so does gardening. There are competitions, and I’m sure no one ever plants anything, not hoping to succeed. But whenever I talk to people who enjoy gardening, they all have recent stories of failed cucumbers or weird diseases attacking their potatoes.
And that’s ok! Everyone expects it. A big part of gardening is trying things out, sometimes knowing that your chances of success are slim. This year I tried tomatillos, fully aware that the climate in Finland would probably prove to be a challenge to this small green tomato, native to Mexico. And so it has: we achieved lots of blooms, but no fruit.
I have planted and re-planted all my 55 peonies many times. I won’t go into detail as to why, but let’s just say that I now believe people who are more experienced than I am when it comes to instructions on peony planting.
I’ve definitely had some triumphs too. This summer, I planted zucchinis in the herb garden, and it has been a great success. It has produced an abundance of cucumbers all summer.
To me, this is why I love gardening. It’s not serious. Of course, it’s fun when something goes really well, but there is always room for experiments, and if something is not working, it’s ok to decide: I give up; this is not for me. I don’t think I will try tomatillos again, but I am tempted to try melons or grapes!
In the meantime, whether the melons or grapes or tomatillos ever work out, I’ve spent hundreds of hours feeling joy just thinking about new things to plant. I have celebrated surprise cucumbers and blooming peonies. It’s a hobby that teaches you to nurture and to be patient, and really to re-evaluate what failure even is.