A Beginner's Guide To Gardening Lessons

The first rule in this beginner's guide to gardening lessons is to listen to your tomatoes. They'll tell you everything you need to know about life.

There’s a lot for us to learn about gardening. But there’s also a lot we can learn from our gardens. I’ve certainly learned some patience. And I’m pretty sure every gardener has learned that you can’t really conquer nature; you just do your best and hope things go in your favor. So in this mini beginner’s guide to gardening, it should come as little surprise that it’s the garden that’s leading the way.

In Life Lessons from My Tomatoes, Juanita L. Haditsch shares some of the things she’s learned about herself and her world through her tomatoes. “If you do not pluck the hornworms out of your life early, they will only grow bigger and multiply.”

If ever there was a beginner’s guide to gardening and life advice, that’s got to be it. Hornworms might be good for feeding chickens, but they don’t do anything for our tomatoes. And the “hornworms” in our lives? She’s right. The sooner you get rid of them, the less damage they can do.

Another lesson from Juanita that I love is about inviting color and variety into our lives … and gardens. “A garden of all sizes, shapes, and colors is more fun.” It’s short and to the point, but I certainly can’t argue against the idea, either in life or in the garden!

From a Beginner’s Guide to Gardening and Life Lessons to Good Old-Fashioned Fun, GreenPrints Has the Stories You’ll Love

This story comes from our archive spanning over 30 years, and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that imbue the joy of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!

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Life Lessons from My Tomatoes

By Juanita L. Haditsch of Suitland, MD.
  • The worst seedlings can flourish if they receive fertile ground and regular encouragment. But the best seedlings rarely thrive in rocky sites where their needs are not met.
  • The size of a tomato has nothing to do with its quality. Volunteer cherry tomatoes teach me that lesson anew every year.
  • A garden of all sizes, shapes, and colors is more fun.
  • We should all choose our friends the way tomatoes do. Basil and tomatoes are not alike, but they accomplish great things together!
  • Maybe good fences make good neighbors. But tomatoes make friends of good neighbors. Fences? Well, they’re handy to lean on while sharing tomatoes and other pleasantries.
  • If you do not pluck the hornworms out of your life early, they will only grow bigger and multiply.
  • Some plants produce fruit steadily all summer, even when others nearby have stopped. Others put on an impressive show but then quit. Hmmm. I should examine my own performance now and then.

By Juanita L. Haditsch of Suitland, MD., published originally in 2018, in GreenPrints Issue #114. Illustrated by Marilynne Roach

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What have you learned about life through your garden? I’d love to read about them in the comments. 


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