Dirty Hands

The weather here in Chicago and my schedule finally allowed me a few moments to get into my garden this week.

Gardening is a recent addition to my list of enjoyable activities. I hesitate to claim it, or much else, as a hobby because I flit and float as the mood hits me. But a few years ago I created three raised beds for vegetables and lined the remaining sides of my yard with a combination of annuals and perennials – experimenting and learning along the way.

My neighbor – whose backyard flower garden is prize-worthy, has taught me a great deal about identifying weeds, transferring bulbs, and the best times to water. I appreciate his mentorship!

He maintains a very regimented schedule of watering each plant and with gloved hands pulling every weed daily. Kneeling-cushion at hand, he trims and thins, not allowing even the slightest branch or leaf to grow too high or too broad.

Given that he is retired and therefore has much more time than I do, he often bemoans the growing weeds and the untrimmed tomato bushes on my side of the fence. To his chagrin, I have not become obsessed with keeping my garden controlled and managed.

Through our friendly banter, I have realized that our approaches to gardening are rooted in and indicative of our approaches to life.

I enjoy the sticky, moist, messiness of mud between my fingers and beneath my nails. I love fresh vegetables, beautiful plants and flowers, green grass, fresh air, and sunshine.  I crave the sense of accomplishment as I pick a pepper, pop a cherry tomato, and drop fresh cilantro or basil into ‘my garden’ salad.

Studies have shown that digging in dirt is good for the psyche and the soul – helping ease symptoms of depression by raising serotonin. And I certainly benefit from that, particularly after the gray cold winter season!

A few other articles about Gardening & Depression here:

So while my garden might not be prim-and-proper as my neighbor prefers, I do find ME – weeds and all — in the process of planting, pruning, and picking the fruits of my labor, freestyle. (And having an opportunity to share the harvest with others simply increases joy!)

Do you garden? Do you take the ‘pull every weed’ approach or are you more ‘wild’ in your gardening habits? 

I’ll share photos from time to time this summer — please do the same. 




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