“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.”
Henry David Thoreau – Walden
Henry David Thoreau learned from his time living in a cabin near Walden Pond the value of living an uncomplicated life. We dwellers in the twenty-first century can learn a lot from these wise words from Mr. Thoreau.
It’s also a lesson that is worthwhile to us gardeners as well. A huge backyard garden teaming with ten varieties of tomatoes, a plethora of beans, ten other kinds of vegetables and herbs, and an entrance framed by a trellis overgrown with roses is a beautiful sight to behold. But many of us don’t have the space to plant such a garden, nor the time to take care of it.
Gardens do not exist only in large spaces and they do not all team with twelve different kinds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It is possible to simplify our vegetable gardens. You can grow a small raised bed just off your patio and fill it with lettuce, a few pepper plants, and a cucumber on a trellis. This is a garden. A few tomato plants in containers on your patio – this is also a garden. Some greens in bottles on the balcony of an apartment in the city? This too is a garden. Some tomatillos in a small raised bed? This is a garden; no ifs, ands, or buts about it. At a motel I once stayed, out in the back, I saw some used tires filled with soil which had vegetables plants growing in them. Yes, this is indeed a garden. So if you desire to have a garden, but think that the lack of a big back yard is hindering you, take heart. You don’t need a big backyard. You can grow a garden almost anywhere. Do what you can, and don’t worry about what you can’t. Take a lesson from Henry David Thoreau and simplify, simplify, simplify. Even better, take a lesson from Ralph Waldo Emmerson, who told Thoreau that one simplify would have sufficed.