A Wealthy Garden

When I was growing up my grandparents always had a vegetable garden.  Let me just say that it never looked like the picture below.  There weren’t any flowers, but there also weren’t any weeds.  What am I doing wrong?


Am I doing anything wrong or just differently?  Sure, there are a lot of weeds.  But, I’ve got 10′ sunflowers, all my soil is covered, I’ve provided rabbit habitat, and food for bees and yellow finches.  To be honest its the end of the season, we’ve had a lot of summer rain, and the tomatoes which are out of frame right are spent, but were delicious as usual.

My grandfather’s garden “looked” better in the bucolic man over nature sense.  There were no weeds.  He tilled between the rows and production was high.  He put up vegetables for the winter in marathon canning sessions.

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The way he did things worked for him.  But, I’ve learned some new things from increased access to information and scientific advancement that he didn’t have the ability to obtain.  I value my time differently than he did.  I wasn’t a child of the Great Depression.  At 95 years old my grandfather’s still alive and while not gardening any longer due to a tractor accident he always worked harder than anyone and is the strongest man I’ve ever known.  I grew up thinking he was John Wayne.

My version of the garden is still a productive piece of ground despite the apparent differences.  My Garden 2.0 also suits one of my most precious resources; my time.  I also hate weeding in July in the sticky hot Virginia Summer.  I put down newspaper and straw to thwart weeds early in the season and build carbon in the soil that I’ll later turn under and plant a cover crop for over winter to avoid erosion and build organic matter, soil structure, and fertility.  That’s my investment into building the future resources and carrying capacity of the spot for years to come.

The garden can hold a metaphor for our lives.  Sometimes it gets a little messy and it’s not pretty, but the things that are really important will emerge and overshadow the imperfections.  I don’t want to forget the Zinnias, but my eyes are immediately drawn to the sunflowers towering over the undesirable weeds below.  The sunflowers that have provided support for the green beans trellising underneath.  The sunflowers that will likely reseed themselves for next year.  What can we do to seed the sunflowers in our lives so that the most important things in our lives grow to the sky?

It depends upon what you value, but no doubt it’s important to start with a good foundation.  In the garden, this means fertility, high organic matter, and praying for mother nature’s blessings of sunshine and rain.  For me, the foundation of the goal for building wealth reaching towards the sky are education, being a good person, and having people to share the journey with.

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Here’s a new take on the traditional Financial Planning Pyramid focusing on how to prioritize your time as well as important wealth building (base) and destroying (point) activities.


H/t to Ritholtz Wealth & @finplan



Spend a moment to marinate on that image.  Take it all in.  You’ll note the strong foundation on the bottom and the weeds at the top.  Ignore the weeds.  If you build your foundation and plant the seeds from saving and letting time be on your side for compounding your sunflowers will overtake the weeds and reach the sky also.


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