Years ago, when our soils were pristine and commercialism hadn’t raped and destroyed the vital forces within it, we could just plant our seeds and expect a bountiful harvest. But now, even after faithfully weeding, watering, and watching for evidence of predators and infections, we find our plants still stressed and barely able to produce the harvests of years past.

An enemy has stolen in on us and left us with the husk, rather than the kernel. But to recover the past, and perhaps even improve on it, we have work to do–work that is very rewarding in its results. There are several levels of gardening, seven at least, that affect plant growth, quality, production, hardiness, flavor, resilience, nutrition, and many other things, where we can assist our plants by attending to these levels.

Amazingly, plants can set fruit and mature it to a harvest with only parts of two of these levels in operation, and that is where most of us have been in our gardening. A “level” is not just one thing, like faithful watering or adding compost. It is a whole system in which watering or composting are only parts.  By adding part of one more level to the first two we console ourselves that we are now “organic gardeners”, but notice that the plants are not necessarily more productive or the fruit of better flavor and quality. At least we aren’t using poisonous chemicals!

As we learn more about each level we can expand the plant’s abilities and capacities way beyond conventional. But what about the other 4 levels? That’s where the plants get really serious. Let me explain.

John was an executive in a large corporation and did well financially, but his success came at a big price–long hours at the office. He had little time to help his faithful wife raise their five energetic children (the oldest being 10) and manage their large estate. It was his joy every evening to come home and find the children clean and eager to spend time with their daddy, though his wife had little energy left except for an occasional smile.

John’s concerns were aroused, however, when he noticed his wife losing weight, his children getting sick easier and more irritable, and the yard deteriorating. Eventually she developed a cough that wouldn’t go away. When John encouraged her to see the doctor (he didn’t have time to take her), he was horror struck to learn she had cancer. He quickly called their family physician to find out what they could do, and the good doctor said, “John your wife has been overworked for years, just trying to raise your children and take care of your large estate on her own. If you are not able to personally help her because of your responsibilities at work, I highly suggest you hire some help. If you don’t, you will have five children to raise yourself within a few months!”

This got John’s attention and he immediately set about to help his wife as best he could. He hired a highly qualified man to care for the yard, a couple ladies to help with meal preparation, laundry, and housecleaning, and a very capable nanny to help with the children. Then he secured the help of a personal female assistant for his wife, to keep her supplied with fresh juices and smoothies, make sure she got the needed exercise (whether active or passive, like with massages), provide quiet times so she could rest during the day, and be her personal attendant (keeping John informed of any needs).

And the effects were astounding. Immediately the yard soon became a neighborhood showpiece, the children blossomed with the new attention, and most importantly to John, his wife not only recovered in record time, but was full of smiles when he came home in the evenings. By the time the doctor said she would be in the grave the two of them were enjoying a second honeymoon.

The above story is but an illustration to what is often happening in our gardens. The plants are represented by the wife, their children as the fruit and vegetables, and the busy husband the gardener. We can see how the wife/mother/yardkeeper/housemaid was overworked and able to do only the most essential things, but still losing ground. The children were showing signs of deterioration, and unless her husband/father would quickly intervene his family would seriously be affected. What he did is what the gardener can do– access the many servants or helpers highly qualified to help restore full functionality to his family (garden).

Click here Seven Levels of Gardening to see the many ways you can help your struggling garden become a showpiece and pride of your life.