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  • Writer's pictureMairin McCracken

The Huddle #54: DIY Gardening Instruction Manual


Well, folks. We’ve cleaned out our closets. We’ve baked bread. We’ve signed up for online courses at Harvard and Yale. Our houses are clean. We’re full. We’re Ivy League Educated (kind of). And for those of you with kids… you’ve kept some humans alive, and maybe even taught said humans how to read and count. You amaze me. 

As many of us are in the market for new DIY projects and seeing as I am an experienced gardener,* I thought I would share with you some gardening tips. 

I should be honest and say that all gardening knowledge I have comes from an essay written by one Piper J in my fifth-grade writing class.  In her essay, she writes about how soil is very important to a gardener, and how, since moving houses during shelter-in-place, she has not had any soil for gardening. Rather, she has only dirt. However,  Piper is a scrappy little one. She watched Youtube videos and learned that you can create a quasi-garden using cups of water. She placed onions in water and watched them grow new onions. Go, Piper! 

Piper also explained how, with everything so uncertain around her, she found great solace in gardening. She said, “I can’t solve anything that’s going on in the world, but I can plant.” Ah, the wisdom of ten-year-olds. 

This made me think back to when shelter-in-place first started, and I would hear yoga teachers and spiritual leaders referring to this time as a “Pause.” At first, I really felt that pause. It felt good for a day or so. I sat on my couch. I opened a book. I called my dad just to chit chat. Quickly, though, I began to feel buried in the pause. I felt stuck. I searched out a new routine that would bring discipline to my life and force me to get my work done and get outside, then the routine would change, or get thrown off, and I would get unsettled. 

Before COVID, we were living in this rich, beautiful soil. We were able to grow, blossom, and be productive. And then, suddenly, it was like we were forced into a giant pile of dirt. But if there’s anything my natural hair roots have taught me, it’s that this narrative is all wrong. We’ve never been on pause. Things are constantly growing, changing, evolving, and so are we. 

Sure, we don’t have our nice, neatly gardened patches of soil to grow on. But we haven’t been thrown in the dirt. Rather, our lives have been placed in a big ol’ container of H2O. And that’s a beautiful thing. 

Here, in the water, we’re growing new parts of ourselves. As unsettling as it can feel to be without a routine, without an end date, without the wherewithal to give ourselves a haircut, this time can be incredibly freeing. This is not the time for routine- water doesn’t work that way. This is not the time for rigidity or self-judgment. Here and now, we have this opportunity to find our natural rhythm. If that means waking up at 9 am and working until 9 pm, great. If it means afternoon showers and taking your Zoom meetings with wet hair, so be it. Sometimes we're swimming and sometimes we're treading, but we're always here, in the unstructured. In the unknown. Becoming and becoming and becoming.

This is all to say, my gardening tip is this: Put it in water. 

*I helped my mom plant tomatoes once. I was eight. 

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