I had worked so hard in the garden that day, starting early when the first rays of sunlight were slowly inching their way above the horizon and finishing hours later as the light faded over the opposite horizon. Weeding, planting, deadheading, harvesting, mowing, hoeing. I got a lot done
I also wore myself out and looked a mess, as they say. Mud on my knees, grass stains on my shirt, dirt and perhaps a blister or two on my hands, but I had a smile on my face.
It was a good day in the garden. And I was a good kind of tired.
After gathering up the last of the harvest and throwing some tools on the wheelbarrow to take back to the old garden shed, I took a moment to sit on a nearby bench and reflect on the general state of the garden.
It was then that I heard that sickening, snapping noise that wood makes when it cracks suddenly. Oops, had the bench finally given way under my weight?
I looked down next to where I was sitting and noticed that one of the wooden slats of the bench seat had indeed cracked. And where it cracked, I found a neatly folded piece of paper.
I reached down and gently picked up the paper, unfolded it and gasped audibly as I read…
“The eighth secret to achieving happiness in your garden is to strive for balance.”
Strive for balance.
Strive for balance?
It seemed a bit vague, but then, reflecting on it, it made perfect sense.
In a healthy, balanced garden, good and bad insects balance each other out, so there is no need to panic at the first sign of insects.
The tomato hornworms get eaten by birds or attacked by parasitic wasps. Aphids are eaten by lady bugs. Butterflies find nectar and a place to lay their eggs. The praying mantis waits silently for her prey. A cicada killing wasp attacks her victim in mid air.
Amongst a variety of flowers, a host of different pollinators gather pollen.
In a healthy, balanced garden, gardeners don’t freak out and reach for a can of bug spray every time they see an insect. They know that healthy gardens, planted with a wide variety of plants, support all kinds of insects, good and bad, in a delicate balance. They know that randomly spraying poisons whenever they see a few insects can upset that balance.
And they know that the best way to control bad insects in a garden is to find that balance that brings in the predators of those insects, including good or beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife.
Strive for balance. Yes, it made perfect sense.
After I put away my tools that day, I took that neatly folded piece of paper with the eighth secret and placed it next to book of the first five secrets.
Just two more secrets to go…
When and where would I find them?