But it also can reshape our gratification timeline. Tending plants is anything but instant gratification.
My husband, Kevin, teases me each June as I invariably angst over the slow progress of seedlings and transplants. Once they're established, growth is exponential and by the end of July, we're excitedly harvesting a cornucopia of foods. But for those first few weeks, I'm convinced all my efforts have been for naught.
On another level, as we browse the catalogs and select seeds, we embark on a multi-month journey, locking us in to the vagaries of a particular variety's abilities to meet as-yet-unknown weather conditions. It will be nearly a year before we can assess the results and decide whether this tomato or that squash is a keeper.
Last summer, when I broke my arm at the end of July, I filled my mother's ears daily with laments about the garden: how I couldn't weed, or prune, or spray or plant; how we'd lost this crop to mildew or that crop to neglect.
She told me she knew I was finally on the mend -- mentally -- when I started talking instead about "next year."
And that's one of the beauties I most appreciate about gardening: It keeps us facing forward, looking and waiting for the wonders of tomorrow.