A few weeks ago, shovel in hand, I stooped over my freshly tilled, blank rectangle of dark brown earth and I was struck by the number of life metaphors that had already made themselves apparent through my first real attempt at gardening. And I hadn’t even planted a single vegetable yet!

In the Bible, God began with a garden. That’s where He placed the first people. Gardens sustain our lives. And not only does gardening have astounding health benefits (from increased life expectancy to critical vitamin D exposure to lowered chances of heart attack and stroke) it has astounding wisdom built right into the process.

This list of life lessons learned while gardening is only scratching the surface, but maybe it inspires you to plant something of your own this year. See if you can spot how these gardening truths translate to our daily lives!

  • The difference between a garden and any other piece of land? A garden is where you decide what’s planted and what gets pulled up.
  • Be encouraged! Sometimes progress is taking place just below the surface where you can’t see.
  • If you want to get rid of a weed, get it from the root.
  • Check in daily. One small weed is easier to pluck up than 20 big ones. A slightly thirsty plant is easier to revive than a parched and wilting one. Don’t step away for so long that you’re surprised by what you find upon returning.
  • You come to love what you invest your time, money and energy in. The Bible puts it another way: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • Seedlings started inside don’t do well when they’re all-of-a-sudden transplanted to the great outdoors. They need to be slowly climatized and to get used to the feeling of outside, little by little, to ease the transition. Gentle transitions.
  • You can turn what seems like waste (eggshells, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps and yard trimmings) into nutritious fuel for your garden.
  • What you put into the soil determines what you get out of it.
  • People have been doing this forever. Don’t reinvent the wheel, get advice from someone who’s been there.
  • And at the same time, don’t be afraid to just start!
  • We fertilize the soil, but we cannot control the timing of the first frost. We water thirsty plants, but we’re not the ones who make the seed grow beneath the soil. We do our best in the things within our control and relax about the rest.
  • Pruning means thoughtfully cutting off something that’s attached for the sake of long term health and a higher-quality harvest.
  • It’s going to be a battle. The pests and bugs and deer and diseases want to steal your harvest … make a plan to protect your garden from attack.
  • When the harvest comes in, it’ll come fast and furious – make a plan now about how you’ll save and preserve the bounty so that it continues to serve you well into the future. Otherwise, the fruit of your labor will rot on the vine!
  • There’s no feeling quite so sweet as sitting down to eat something you’ve planted, tended to, harvested and finally, cooked, yourself.
  • Gardening’s fun even before a single tomato is ready to be eaten because there’s pleasure in the process itself.

Ready to grow something of your own?  Happy gardening!