“Let us cultivate our garden”: How growing plants is like family medicine

Every spring we tell ourselves we should plant a garden.  Either life gets in the way or tomato horn worms, snails, and birds devour our crops.  Urban Harvest built small gardens at our local elementary schools to teach the children about healthy eating and sustainable gardening.  This inspired us to try a different approach.

This spring, my wife, son, and I built a small community garden in a neglected courtyard at our synagogue.  The basil grew like gangbusters and is still putting out leaves.  The oregano and dill thrived also.  The strawberries are still plugging along, but he green peppers and banana peppers died during the summer heat.  The tomatoes blossomed and produced some fruit, but not much.

When we work in the garden, we get lots of questions.  I always laugh inside when folks ask my “expert” opinion on growing plants.  Anything I know I learned from Urban Harvest’s web site and Mother Earth News.  I taught myself how to set up the drip irrigation system after reading the manuals on the company’s website.  The heirloom seed catalogue that sits on my nightstand was a gift from a patient.

Then the underlying truth hit me.  Gardening is like being a family doctor.  I don’t have to be an expert horticulturist to plant basil.  I just have to read what the experts write and apply it to my garden.  I can marry my basic gardening skills to articles and blogs and successfully grow tasty plants.  Learning how to place an IUD was similar.  I had done endometrial biopsies for years, so I read the manufacturer’s instructions and realized I already had the basic skills.  I just had to add a few steps.

I like being a jack-of-all-trades and feel no need to be a master.

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