As the growing season progresses and the monotony of yard and garden work sets in, I find myself using my gardening time to reflect. This week, as I was making the rounds, it struck me that raising flowers and vegetables isn't unlike raising children. Some similarities:

Boundary issues: The tomato plants might be caged, but that doesn't stop them from wanting to branch out, so to speak, into other areas of the garden. I love to see them grow and reach their full potential, but a little respect for boundaries would be nice, and the other plants would appreciate it.

Boundary issues, part 2: Strawberries. Need I say more?

Why is only one of them flourishing?

Why is only one of them flourishing?

Growth patterns: You have two plants (in this case, clematis), feed them and love them the same, and one flourishes and the other, while still growing, is having a harder time. These sibling plants are right next to each other, and you know how people judge. What's a gardener to do?

Guilt: One weekend out of town + one forgotten hanging plant = the first casualty of the gardening season. I never was fond of the plant, but did I subconsciously orchestrate its demise?

First impatience: You wait and wait for the seeds to germinate, the first blossoms on the tomatoes and finally, FINALLY the fruits of your labor.

Then regret: Before you know it you're knee deep in tomatoes and zucchini and can't make tomato sauce, salsa or zucchini bread fast enough. Why did I insist on those last two plants? But once the growing season is over and there are no more fresh tomatoes for BLTs and sweet corn is a distant memory, you think not only should I have insisted on those last two plants, I should have insisted on two more.

Oh, the mess! Watering and feeding are basic needs, but the weeds are just like a messy room. I only wish plants could pick up after themselves. (Children too, for that matter.)

And finally, pride: Much like bringing home a good report card or a piece of artwork that's bound to be the next Picasso, the first piece of harvested produce is brought into the house with smiles and a great sense of pride and accomplishment. We all see that if you nuture and care for something the right way -- even if there are a few mistakes along the way -- the end results are outstanding.