The gardener’s maieutics






“Wisdom begins in wonder”.







Hello, young Padawan



I must admit that I almost called this article “It’s not the size that counts,” and knowing my humor, you would certainly not have been surprised, and then it might have done you smile. Yes, smile, remember? We launched an “Amber Alert,” but still no sign of life. It has been missing for months.


Like many of us, I am more and more frequently meeting people who really do not have the mood to smile. Even if I am naturally joyful, I also admit feeling a little melancholy these days too. So, it’s time to show you my secret weapon: the hobby.


Okay, I admit that it does not make you dream but wait. I am talking about a daily activity that brings joy, allowing you to empty your head teeming with unanswered questions, worries, gloom, waitings, uncertainties, and other annoyances, just by relaxing 20 minutes a day with your favorite hobby. Because when you really get into it, it is like a kind of meditation. Take the puzzle, for example. Looking tirelessly for the blue piece, a little less blue than blue, to finish your sky puzzle of 3000 pieces, believe me, you forget that your washing machine broke down. Really. And stop looping when it’s been a year since we have no way to stop it (the loop, try to follow, ed); believe me, it helps. The possibilities are endless, cheap; they allow you to vary the pleasures and fool your brain, which was going to start again on another episode of the replay of your best dramas, the little house on the prairie of your mental hell.


Yes, but then, why this idea of a title? Well, because I love gardening and it’s easy, for everyone, because you can easy garden with houseplants, or grow all kinds of plants (legal, isn’t it, lol, ed) on your windowsills or your balcony. And so, the message is that to garden you don’t necessarily need to have a large space to have fun. Now you understand? Let’s go.





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Photo 1 – Strawberries and Basil. Note: your faithful servant will soon be enjoying all these.





Preparing for spring

What seeds ?

Spring is well advanced, but I assure you, it is not too late. You still have a few weeks to get started if that tempts you.


You can buy, be offered, or ask those around you who have green thumbs for a few seeds or small plants of all kinds of things to grow at home. Knowing that you can also keep the seeds of what you eat: avocados, lemon, oranges or apples seeds … You will have no fruit because you have to graft them, but you still can have fun see these pretty plants which will embellish your interior and give birth to the pride of the budding gardener, and may lead you the following season to invest in a bag of seeds of cherry tomatoes or basil.


For those who want to buy seeds, I would recommend organic and associative, but you do what you want.



Soil, pots ?

The garden, whether urban or not, is thought of in advance: Keep all your old plant pots, collect those from friends or family if necessary. Here for example (photo 2 – bottom right), those are old pansies pots that I use to start my tomato plants.


As for the soil, I take a breeding soil for a vegetable patch that will be used for my herbs, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and … butternut. Yeah, this year, I’m trying a butternut plant, hoping it doesn’t take over my entire balcony, lol. We’ll see. Promise if I have a harvest, I’ll take a picture for you this fall. I recycle the same soil over several years; when I see that my plants are struggling a little, I add organic liquid fertilizer to my irrigation water once a week. All this little world is planted with different flowers bringing biodiversity, attracting bees, and avoiding treating. So far, the worst thing I have had to do is to spray water with a drop of black soap to deal with an aphid attack.



How do we do it? ?

Nothing’s easier. In small pots or old egg boxes, place a little soil, a seed or two depending on the receptacle’s size, a spray of water, and that’s it. A lot of light but no direct sun. Water with a spray bottle (it’s fragile!) every day and turn them a half-turn so that the shoots do not lean towards the light source.


The seeds should emerge within a week, sometimes two, depending on the seed type, then start to grow gradually. Add a small stake with the means at hand; for my baby tomatoes, I use skewers that I reuse from year to year, and finally, when it’s time, place the baby plants that have grown up delicately in the ground or a bigger pot!



I have pretty baby plants, when do we put them outside? ?

It depends on your climate, of course, but generally in the West: do it after May 11, 12, and 13th of this year. Indeed, they must be put in the ground (or a bigger pot outside) after the “Saints de Glace” (Ice Saints, ed). If you do it before, your pretty still fragile plants may freeze. It’s an old gardener belief. If you do not plant them in the ground but in bigger pots, you can put them outside when they seem strong enough to you (like 15 cm for a tomato plant, ed) and bring them inside in the freezing evenings. It’s work, but it makes it possible to have tomatoes a month earlier. It’s up to you.


For all that is “plants that struggle to stand up,” that climbs, that makes you feel like you’ve watered it with Guinness: Don’t skimp on the stakes. This will help your plant to grow well, to be more harmonious and also to give you better fruits, as for tomato, for example.

And if you are wondering about the maintenance of your tomato plants, you can take a look here.





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Photo 2 – From right to left and top to bottom: Plants of cucumbers (the large ones) and oxheart tomatoes (the small ones) – A turmeric leaf – A ginger plant – Tomato plants (Pink Berkeley and oxheart again).





Hobby is meditation

I know you’re rolling your eyes; I see you, but not so fast, my dear Padawan. Meditation, or the art of clearing your head, is a much more difficult exercise than you might think. Many people have tried multiple times and never really managed to stop thinking. And the art of mediation leads its students well beyond; they will later have the faculty, thanks to a clearer mind, to question themselves, discover and formulate the truths they have in their inner selves. To empty your head to better fill it afterward, in short.


Planting your basil, watching your tomato plants grow, taking care of them, putting the tutor that is going well, looking for better exposure, all of this is mediation; and it is also care and a positive responsibility, and sometimes it reveals also our state of mind. In photo 2, top left, you will notice at the few yellow leaves that I forgot at one point to water my little cucumber plants. It might sound like a detail, but to me, that says a lot about my state of mind two weeks ago. I was not going so well, and I left my plants and sanity in the second plan. The parallel here was obvious. Against the backdrop of a lot of work and personal stuff, I forgot things that are nevertheless essential for me. Since the day I almost burst the baby cucumbers and find myself in burnout, I decided to do what is important to me. If my plants are growing well, so are I, after all.


Of course, qualitative and meditative time has nothing to do with using media. Watching TV, for example, is not quality time, neither is social networks. How to become aware of who we are intrinsically, formulate our truths, be in agreement with ourselves if we only spend our lives in the stress of work and that of entertainment? Yes, modern entertainment is just as stressful as your job, and I doubt that you need the insights of your faithful servant to realize it.


Human beings are not made for the stress of modern life. We are made to run naked in the woods (I know you were waiting for it, ed) in search of berries, smell the humus after the rain, and touch the trees to feel alive. Thus, watering “Brandon” your ficus or spraying “Brenda” the orchid reconnects you to the real, to your very nature as a human being.


It’s normal not to be well in a sick society, so taking care of yourself is doubly important today.


When he is disconnected from what he is made for, and his cognition blurs, the human being loops around his problems; the questions he asks are only surface questions that do not allow him to move forward, to get out of this circle of discomfort. It is important to regularly take a break from our incessant thoughts, at the risk of one day finding ourselves in depression (the famous repetitive loop from which we can no longer get out by yourself, ed). One in five human beings will experience depression in this modern society that has become hostile to human mental health. It is therefore vital, I insist, it is vital to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health because one does not go without the other. Emptying your mind daily, for a few minutes, is an effective treatment for the brain, which today pedals as much as a professional cyclist. And indeed, plants are a good example of hobbies because they bring us back to true-time, slowness, and appeasement.


Plant care is self-care, cultivation is therapy, gardening is maieutic.





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Some examples of quality meditative time that clears your head


-Once again, with twenty minutes of gardening, you increase your self-esteem, bring yourself joy and pride to be able to grow things.


-With a puzzle, a crossword, sudoku, or memory game, you work on your memory and your patience.


-Learning a musical instrument: You work on your patience and your humility. You now understand that nothing happens without work, without effort.


-Singing brings you a lot of inner joy, a kind of moment out of time, between you, the music, and the words. Alone, it is a moment of meditation; with several (no, it is not what you think, little rascal), it is a moment of symbiosis between human beings. If you like to sing and you’ve never taken part in a group singing lesson or a choir, go for it, you’ll have goosebumps and joy in your heart.


-A long walk in the fresh air. Did you know that walking for more than 30 minutes a day for a month improves your mood significantly? So, borrow the neighbor’s dog and put on your sneakers.


-Meditation, itself, for expert padawan, but not only. If you are a beginner, you can start with breathing exercises, for example, it is really good and accessible to everyone, even to children. And I invite you to take a look at this article here for a twice-daily exercise that will do you a lot of good.


-The list is obviously not exhaustive, there is also the bicycle, or any other sport that would make you happy, or painting, writing, sewing, cooking; in short, you do what you want as long as you allow yourself a few minutes of qualitative time for yourself every day.









Taking the time to have a hobby means investing in quality personal time and realizing the vital importance of taking care of yourself, clearing your head, and allowing yourself to be in the present time. It will helps you discover truths about yourself, your life, what you do and what works, what is good for you, and what should be changed to maintain your sanity, to stay healthy, balanced with your intrinsic values, and your inner self. Indeed, it is impossible to be well, to be balanced, to know yourself well, and to be in harmony with yourself and others without taking true time for yourself.


There you go, I hope I made you want to take care of your brain, at the time of year when you tend to take care of your ass. The most gorgeous body on the beach will not be able to be fully functional without its head, so, between two magic diets and three workout sessions, think of your head, it will give it back to you a hundredfold. For a little more info on how the brain races and sometimes gives you the impression of having had a bad day when it actually wasn’t, I invite you to have a look here.

And I hope, finally, to have convinced you to try to put both feet and hands in the soil.




XO 🍅










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A few healthy cherry tomato plants.



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