Nature Versus Nurture?

Nature Versus Nurture?

“Nature is the length of the rectangle, nurture the width. There can be no rectangle without both.”   –Matt Ridley

Our desire to understand our human nature more fully, and in some cases find something or some one to blame for our station in life, invented a 20th century tagline for determining how and why we do what we do: Nature vs nurture.  In other words, is it the quality of our environment and circumstances that determines the trajectory of life OR is it our DNA? Such discussions and disputes have the capacity to polarize our understanding, rather than more graciously accept what is. Why for the love of humankind, does it have to be one or another?  Are we, like other beings, the manifestation of both? I believe that nature gives us many clues as to how we may instead find comfort and clarity in accepting our human nature as both- nature and nurture. Doing so may make the gardens of our souls a bit more peaceful.

While it may be simplistic, consider planting a pack of eggplant seeds. You have taken a course in seed planting to ensure success, and plant a package of seeds, on the perfect day in late February, nearly identically. You use electric seed mats, pre- moistened seed starting mix, grow lights, covers, and wait for germination. You check for soil humidity, light, and you may even pray. Two weeks later, 24 out of the 36 are peeking out from their soil covers. You are excited. Your black thumb just turned green. You rotate the seed trays and continue to provide ideal conditions to up-plant the seedlings into larger pots prior to planting in your perfectly prepared outdoor raised bed, scheduled according to the Farmer’s Almanac on May 13th. Three days later, nine more seeds pop. Great! More self-pats on the back follow. Three of the seeds never even wave at you. You see their empty beds daily with a tinge of self-reproach.  Of the 33 seedlings, 29 develop sufficient rooting to carefully transplant them (no touching the stems) into new, little sterile pots, now placed in front of different windows.  4 of the 29 peter out. Of the 25 eggplant juveniles now successfully transplanted into their sprawling new homes, 22 flower– a frisbee takes out a corner of the lot. You decide to spend an extra night in the city with a friend and while youre away, the power goes out on the hottest day on record for mid-June. Arrggh!!!   To the rescue!! You set up irrigation lines and pinch off the leaves that dried out.  12 of the 22 plants go to the compost pile. The ten plants become your focused pride and joy. Certainly, one will produce an entry into the state fair. You fertilize with fish emulsion exactly as instructed and one fine July morning, you spot six beautifully shaped little, purple vegetables catching the early sun, (what is this? one is striped !!) You double down on your efforts to protect them with fencing as your neighbor said a raccoon had been spotted in the neighborhood. Six fruits become thirteen and the striped one now has three siblings. Not to despair. Of the 13 being groomed for your granny’s famous eggplant parmesan, only ten are worthy. You can use two smaller baking dishes instead. The spotted ones become the topic of fuss as part of your potager-themed centerpieces. Your neighbor makes a toast for your tremendous hospitality and delicious food. You accept the toast by raising your own glass. Even though there’s a trace of soil under your manicure, you don’t care.  You have  made a vegetable garden, and the fruits of your labor are being worn as smiles around the table.

The next morning, at the fence, your neighbor tells you about her perfect bumper crop of tomatoes. She says off-handedly that she has never grown tomatoes before and flatly suggests that she really kinda neglected them.  For a second your hopes are dashed. ‘I did EVERYYTHING right – sigh (well, maybe I could have bought a generator like I was told) All I got was a baker’s dozen and 4 misfits.  But I’m sure my parm is certainly better than her spaghetti sauce,’ you mumble under your breath.

Was it a bad seed pack, some good “dumb luck”, or an invitation to grow tomatoes next year?  It is nature AND nurture together that filled her table with good things.

And so, we too are like all beings nurtured to life in an imperfect world with imperfect gardeners. It is our very human nurture/ nature to accept the ribbon at the state fair, plant more veggies next year, or turn the raised bed into firewood.

For a complimentary Zoom consultation, please contact Trey Gardens at 917-740-2885

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