“You should always prune the suckers on your tomato plants.”
“Compost should be half brown and half green.”
“You should only water early early in the morning.”
Between Facebook groups and garden blogs, I get handed a lot of advice on a daily basis. You would be surprised to find that, in a world of laid-back gardeners, there are many who think that their way is the only way. I even read a quote once from somebody who said “if you’re not mulching all of your plants, you’re doing it wrong”.
When seeking gardening advice, it’s important to remember that not everybody is an expert on the subject. Unless you’re actually going to an expert, chances are the advice being handed to you as nothing more than personal experiences and success stories. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with success stories or experiences – we stand to gain far more than we stand to lose from hearing other people’s experiences. But when somebody tells you that you should be pruning your tomato plants, when not pruning them has worked out perfectly fine for you in the past, then by all means just let them grow. Take that advice as a suggestion, and do what works for you.
It’s easy to get caught up in everyone else’s idea of what the perfect gardener is, how one acts, and what methods one uses. After all, we come from generations upon generations who have tried to keep up with the Joneses on some level. Even with gardening, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t enough. Not organic enough. Not environmental enough. Not efficient enough. Well I’m here to tell you to stop. That’s right, just stop.
If your plants are growing, stop looking at other people who are doing it differently, and assuming that you’re doing it wrong. Stop feeling like you aren’t organic enough. Stop feeling like pulling weeds, or not pulling weeds, is somehow a bad thing.
Stop being so impossibly hard on yourself. Just like in the rest of life, every gardener is different, every garden is different, and every challenge is different. If what you’re doing is working for you, and you’re happy with the results, then please, keep doing it.
The absolute best advice I’ve ever received was at an organic gardening workshop: “there is more than one way to garden.” I repeat this mantra to myself regularly. It keeps me sane among the catalogs of advice I see daily. And it makes me feel good about the choices I have made myself.