GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

Gardening is Cheaper Than Therapy

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It’s 10 o’clock on a Wednesday morning and I’m dripping with sweat. My feet are filthy already, I’m digging California grass spikes out of my fingers, and the 9 month old baby Kara is complaining that Mommy isn’t moving fast enough with the morning nurse-snack. She doesn’t care that I’m covered in dirt and grime. She just wants her milky-snuggles.


All the things I’m “supposed to be” doing are running through my head. The piles of stuff in our carport that need sorted, priced and put in neat little garage sale piles. The laundry that is already piled and calling my name. The couch covers that need washed- again. And yes, Her Room.  All of this sorting, cleaning, piling is related to the fact that I haven’t touched my mom’s room since she died.  It’s been 4 months tomorrow. I’d like to just pretend it isn’t there. But keeping the door shut makes the rest of the house that much hotter, so airflow prevails over emotions. And so I stare at it. Every time I walk down the hall, come out of the bathroom, go to our son’s room…it’s a small house. There’s no avoiding it. Just like there’s no avoiding her dog, her turtle, or the millions of crocheted items we still use in this house every day. She is here.

But this morning I have found a justifiable distraction. Plants. Gardening. Stuff I haven’t done in months. Folks who know what it’s like to battle the fog of depression know that Depression takes your spirit. It comes in and eats your ambition, steals your motivation and fills your mind with every excuse under the sun as to why you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t do the things you used to love to do. Because Depression is a life-sucker. It is a parasite on your soul and there’s no one-shot remedy to pick up at the local garden store that will get rid of this bugger. It’s case by case, and it’s a slow road back to health; more like hand-cultivator than gas powered tiller.

Today I battled with the big D by avoiding that Room for another day. And in the mean time, brought some more life back to our little yard.


Kara helped me plant seedlings on the morning-shade side of the house. We put in chard, kale, rosemary, lemongrass, bell peppers, basil, lavender and zucchini. She was a great helper 🙂


A couple days ago we put in a Red Mountain Apple tree. I’m super excited about this one because mountain apples are so delicious. They are a smallish fruit with flavor that is sort of cross between a pear and an apple.


And finally, the tomato plant. When I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No Fear all I could see was this tomato plant and I could understand that nothing dies. Life will manifest when conditions are right and will hide when conditions are not right. The story of this tomato plant is the story of my mom’s life with us. She thought I was silly for digging up a volunteer tomato plant from our old house and moving it over here. Then it sat in a pot for MONTHS until we finally put it in the ground. Then it became plantzilla- taking over half our backyard, until we cut it down (like the tree it was). But then the same variety of tomato (which I had not planted before) popped up in our garden beds. A “volunteer” tomato that was pumping out little red beauties 5 or 6 a day which kept my mom and Ethan in backyard snacks for months.  That plant, now gone, along with the bed it was in, has now re-manifested itself on our hillside. Conditions are better there. 🙂

THE Tomato Plant. Because Nothing Dies :-)

THE Tomato Plant. Because Nothing Dies 🙂


Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

One thought on “Gardening is Cheaper Than Therapy

  1. So sorry for your loss. Give yourself as much time as you need to grieve.


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