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The Humble Gardener

Updated on May 21, 2015

You do not garden alone

Why does a gardener need to be humble? After all, look at what he or she creates, beautiful flowers, healthy herbs and tasty vegetables, surely that is a sound reason to be proud. But, pride is not the issue, it is important to take pride in your work, to fully appreciate the value of what you do. The problem begins when the gardeners takes full credit for the garden as not gardener, at least no gardener who grows a bountiful and sustainable garden, works alone.

When I refer to humility or humbleness, I mean a quality of being courteously respectful of others. This attitude is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity. The humble gardeners does not say, "Me first," but her humility allows her to say, "No, you first, my friend."

Humility is the quality that lets us go more than halfway to meet the needs and demands of others.

The second reason for calling a gardener humble is the root of the word humble itself. Humble derives from the Latin word "humilis," meaning "low," which, in turn, comes from the Latin "humus," which means "earth" or "dirt" or "soil."

Soil is the foundation of the garden; soil nurtures the roots, feeds them and helps them develop strong and vital plants. The humble gardener knows this and understands that the job is to build healthy soil, for once this has been achieved, the garden will thrive.

The most effective way to build healthy soil is first, to avoid artificial additives which will drain the soil of its vitality because these poisons kill the millions of little helpers who work with the plants to produce delicious tomatoes and beautify roses.

The second way to grow healthy soil is to add organic material to it periodically. Compost is a perfect source of organic material and your plants will reward you when you spread it around.

You can purchase compost, be sure it is organic or make your own. When you make your own you reuse those kitchen scraps (vegetable cuttings and egg shells, for example, rather than tossing them away.

Grass clippings can be added to compost as can leaves, rather than bagging them up, cover your garden in the fall with them, or bag them set them aside until the following spring when you break them open, and add the contents to the garden beds.

The humble gardener appreciates the bounty that nature provides and the assistance the birds, bees and spiders as well as many, many much smaller beings provide in helping your garden grow.

Building Soil


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    6 years ago from New Brunswick

    A wise gardeners understands that every living thing is dependent upon every other living thing. Thanks for taking the time to comment and happy growing.

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 

    6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

    My garden flowers feed my very soul. Oh, what a great piece you have written. My garden always humbles me and I recognize my inability to help things grow.

    I water and fertilize, I till and recently I started talking to them with verbal encouragement - or perhaps the verbal encouragement is really my own way of positive reinforcement.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Spraying for West Nile virus has a major impact on the ecosystem, not all bugs are the "enemy". Thanks for commenting.

  • Lilleyth profile image

    Suzanne Sheffield 

    6 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

    Thanks Bob, enjoyed your observation here. Watched the video and wish I could have a ton of leaves delivered to my house. In the meantime, I compost every leaf, weed, or kitchen waste and am rewarded with beautiful soil. Sadly, this year, I have yet to discover an earthworm in my tiny garden, whereas, in the past, they were everywhere, crawling onto the porch during rainstorms and such. The poor robins patrol it expecting a tasty morsel, but not so much as a pill bug is there. I blame it on the spraying they have done around here, harness horse country, to kill anything that might carry West Nile virus. Us included, it seems.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Well said Paul, thanks. Gemma, gardening can be a transformative experience when humans understand their role in the process.

  • Paul Wallis profile image

    Paul Wallis 

    6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    So many people really don't understand the working relationship between gardeners and their gardens. That's probably why so many non-humble gardeners never seem to know what's possible in a garden, or how to read its moods.

    The fact is that if you pay attention and work in partnership with your garden, you'll learn more in a few minutes than you can from "mechanical management" gardening in decades. You'll also get a much healthier, happier garden and have a lot more fun.

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 

    6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    "The second reason for calling a gardener humble is the root of the word humble itself. Humble derives from the Latin word "humilis," meaning "low," which, in turn, comes from the Latin "humus," which means "earth" or "dirt" or "soil.""

    Very true, and a very meaningful within the context of this excellent hub.

    Soil, as you said, is the foundation of the garden, and also sustains life that sustains humanity. It is a shame that we are becoming more disassociated from our life support systems. Such loss of humility is like the absent gardener who makes claim on what he or she has not accomplished. Voted up and away. :-)

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Peace and the garden so right, thanks for visiting.

  • johnr54 profile image

    Joanie Ruppel 

    6 years ago from Texas

    Very well stated. I feel such peace when out in the garden. I will start to think humility too!

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thank you for the kind and inspiring words, happy growing.

  • Farmer Brown profile image

    Farmer Brown 

    6 years ago

    I admire your link between humus and humility. There is no greater way of being at peace with myself and my environment than by getting my hands scrubbed with soil. I wish my neighbors thought I was a humble gardener - some of them think I'm a pain to their chemically green lawns. Thank you for the sweet hub on gardeners! A perfect Valentine for gardeners worldwide.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    6 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome and thanks for your contribution.

  • Gloshei profile image


    6 years ago from France

    Great hub Bob, I see where you are coming from and agree with what you say. If it wasn't for the help of nature 'as well' our efforts would not be as fruitfull.

    Thanks for sharing.


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