In order for you to understand my story, I need to go back a year and a half. I had started my life as an immigrant and left what I had known about the world behind me. It was very difficult, even more, that I feel I’m still somewhat immature. I was 23 at the time.
I had to sleep in weird places for three months while I searched for a job, new life opportunities, and a place to live. Thankfully, where I initially arrived, I had a family with me who could, maybe not support economically, but give me company and help whenever I needed it.
Eventually, I left the place where I lived to go to a new place, a more city-like area with more opportunities. I was trying to live the city dream for people who’ve always lived in the country-side, or something similar to that.
Along the way, I struggled and faced many challenges, but I found my place as a freelancer working on the internet. It’s great, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people happy with the idea of working from home. Thanks to quarantine and all that.
But the loneliness. Oh, the loneliness. For me, with no family nearby to visit even during my permitted days during quarantine, I kinda started feeling a little bit abandoned. All the friends I’ve made through my whole family and all the family that has always been there were nowhere to be found, and it kind of shocked me.
But during one of my walks on my permitted days, I decided to get a juice just for the sake of it in a small store owned by a lady and her mother. There, I noticed something weird in the ground— beautiful cactuses. It intrigued me. As someone who loves trees in general, and likes nature, I felt… enticed by it—-so I bought a couple.
Here’s where my adventure as a gardener began, without me even knowing it.
How Taking Care of Pinocchio and Geppetto Helped Me
Right after arriving home, I named them Pinocchio and Geppetto. Yes, I named them both. Two cactuses. There was nothing special to it. The names just came to my head like a sudden wind.
Right after sitting on my computer, I started looking for guides on how to take care of them. Apparently, they only need a certain amount of sunlight and can stand being in direct contact with it for some time. Depending on how much sunlight they take, you can water them every 15 or 30 days as well…
It intrigued me, and after that day until now, I’ve been taking my two cactuses outside of my room to bathe in the sunlight every morning until mid-day. And the simple act of seeing them grow and become healthier and stronger, kind of made me feel accomplished.
I felt like I was taking care of something, and to me, it was something that was filled with life and energy. Although for some people they might be just two cactuses, to me they are Pinocchio and Geppetto, and I love taking care of them.
My loneliness started feeling less… Present since then. But now, I don’t feel lonely anymore.
More Recognizable Routine for Better Productivity
As a freelancer, I have something that I can call an advantage, but sometimes it becomes a curse, and that is the freedom to pick my schedule. As long as I get the work done, I can work whenever I want.
That is great if you are someone who’s disciplined and consistent, but for me, someone who’s easily distracted, often wonders in mental clouds, and can’t even sleep properly, this can be a little complicated to deal with.
Thankfully, I’ve been working things out and I’ve managed to become more disciplined along the way. And I think my plants have somewhat helped me with this. In the beginning, I only had two plants to take care of, so my routine was simpler.
I took my cactuses to take some sunlight, washed my face, washed my mouth with some water, drank a cup of coffee, brushed my teeth, and then I would begin my work routine.
With each passing day, I could feel my body getting accustomed to this routine, and my brain slowly preparing itself after completing it: It’s time to work. It has been working like a switch that lets my brain, body, and soul be prepared for my work, and nowadays, with a slightly better routine, I feel much more ready to complete my daily goals.
Now, before drinking coffee, and since I own more plants, I make sure I take care of them individually, and see if there’s any change in their growth. After that, I take my time to bathe in the sunlight and do some stretching.
Making sure I take at least 5 to 10 minutes of sunlight has helped me greatly, since there’s no better way to obtain Vitamin D than that, and stretching helps me maintain myself healthier, and allows me to avoid carpal tunnel as well as muscle stiffness from sitting and writing in the computer for long periods of time.
Less Stress, More Focus, More Fulfillment
Taking care of my plants now feels like something I love doing. I can simply describe it as a duty, but duty is something you must do. Not something you do because you like it, but because you need to.
No, for me it’s more like an adventure. It has its risks, but its profits as well. It provides me with a sense of fulfillment. Overall, I even feel more present, and I have started to pay attention to little things that make me really happy, like putting the right amount of sugar into my coffee on the first try or drinking a small sip of wine in the night after a long day of work.
Generally speaking, I feel much less stressed than before, since I have something in my mind that is less depressing and stressful than the negative thoughts that once annoyed me on a daily basis.
For other people, the benefits of gardening might even improve mental health as well, so I recommend you to check this article over here for more detailed information: https://www.sochealth.co.uk/2014/11/27/10-gardening-health-benefits/
How to Begin the Journey: The Tools
As someone who lives in a small apartment with little to no space, my small balcony became my warzone, as well as some spaces in my living room. I had to get my tools and supplies right, and depending on whether you are going to become a lawn-gardener or an urban-gardener like myself, the tools you’ll need will depend.
As an urban gardener, after getting my two cactuses, I started looking for ways to own multiple plants for small spaces. I began by getting myself some hanging pots to hang around my balcony, as well as a big 3-spaces rectangular container for three plants I wanted to try growing. I got myself a big pot to cover one of the corners of my balcony, and three medium pots for my living room.
To start, I got myself a small spade, shovel, and some fertilizer, fully-grown plants to just plant and take care of. Gloves, a broom and bags to clean, and of course, a notebook to take notes about my plants.
As a lawn-gardener, you might need more stuff. A rake, a bigger shovel, a medium-sized hand shovel, and a small one are good options for multiple types of plants. A rake will help you clean your garden in case you need to, and a broom will help you get rid of the dirt that flies towards pavement areas.
You might also want to get a gardening cart if your lawn is too big, and top gardening clogs to avoid ruining your shoes. I own clogs myself just because they are comfy and I don’t want to ruin other shoe wears I use, as I am not keen on suffering from the wrath of dirt.
Overall, you should look for tools that you know will make things easier for you, and that requires a little research. I feel like it is more important to know how to mentally engage the experience.
Final Words: Mindset and Mental Preparation
Thankfully, I began my journey with cactuses, since they can be far sturdier than your regular plant, but in my journey, I made mistakes and ended up killing many plants. It was a sad experience, but a necessary evil, since those mistakes, became an experience, and that experience helped me deal with them more properly in the future.
You should be mentally prepared and have the right mindset when it comes to gardening. Knowing that the experience requires patience and research, as well as preparation, is key. And understand that mistakes can happen will help you deal with failure, and prepare you for the next step.
You have to understand why you are doing it, and remain consistent. I began gardening because I wanted something to help me with my loneliness, but I ended up falling in love with it, and taking care of my plants became a part of my life.
It should be something that you have set yourself to do. An obligation that you feel proud to fulfill and follow.