First Presbyterian Church Fort Dodge


Lessons from the Garden: Pruning

Posted by Sara Hill on

Lesson Number One: Pruning

My first lesson from the church garden came from planting the pumpkin plants. Each of our 4-year-old preschoolers planted a pumpkin seed in a cup in March and tended it over the past 6 weeks and now we had 20 pumpkin plants ready to be planted in one 4x8 bed. Any good gardener will tell you that you only need 1 or 2 pumpkin plants in that small of a space. Even just one pumpkin plant will produce dozens of pumpkins. But, I couldn’t let the preschoolers know this. We planted all of them into the ground and each adorable preschooler put the plastic tag with his/her name on it next to his/her plant.

After the kids left I put most of the pumpkin plants into the composter. I saved 5 plants and put the kids’ nametags next to those plants. So now, each pumpkin plant has 6 kids’ nametags next to it. I plan on further pruning that number back to only 2 pumpkin plants.  I needed to prune that pumpkin patch in order to give the plant enough room to grow. If I tried to crowd 20 pumpkin plants into that small space, they would overflow onto the ground and take over the entire area surrounding the bed. I’d have a jungle on my hands.

Each of us is given a finite “garden bed.” It’s 7 days long, and 24 hours wide, so to speak. We can only cram in a finite amount into that 168 hours. If you try to cram too much, you get over-crowding, undernourishment and spillage. Over-crowding looks like needing to be in 3 places at once. Triple-booking yourself or your family is not fun. Undernourishment can look like a family who hasn’t sat down for a meal together in over a week, kids who ask, “who’s babysitting tonight?” as if it’s the norm, or spouses who can’t remember the last time they had a date night. Spillage can look like many things: angry emotional outbursts, dropped or forgotten appointments, broken promises, poor mental health, poor physical health…

In the past 2 months I’ve triple-booked our family on a few occasions. It was my own daughter who asked “so who’s babysitting tonight?” as I picked her up from daycare. I had to bite my lip not to cry. It had been a hectic week. Spillage in my own life looks like poor mental health and eating out way too much because I have no time to cook.

What things do you need to prune from your garden bed? What good things do you need to say “no” to in order that the good things in your life have room to flourish? All 20 of those cute little pumpkin plants were good, but in the end, only 5 could stay. Run some triage on your calendar- do it with your spouse on the family calendar. Make sure that your garden bed isn’t trying to grow too much.