How to care by “not caring”

M.Koenigii, Genus: Murraya

Aka “curry plant” native to subtropical regions of the world and used as an aromatic in South East Asian cooking.

None of that is remarkable news.

The remarkable thing is that this plant grew in my backyard! Why is that a big deal?

Background: I am a veritable black thumb. I manage to kill hardy mint plants and persnickety orchids commit hara-kiri on the way home from a garden shop.

So imagine my pleasant disbelief when I see this little plant thriving!

Now, I am not a callous gardener. On the contrary, I am a very committed, data driven (I look at planting charts, optimal weather for sowing, sprout my plants from seeds ordered from Jefferson’s estate), goal oriented gardener. But inexplicably my little vegetable patch is always barren as the Sahara.

The problem is not that I don’t care. The problem is that I care too much. I (over) water, (over )fertilize and give them stern talking to “Listen if you are not growing in this yard we probably have to weed you out, bottom 20% and all.” (Did I mention I used to work at Microsoft and Amazon?)

That is what happened to this curry plant.

It was not performing.

So I cut the watering down. Plus we have drought so I assuaged my spirit that “after all it is the right thing to do”.

But it was the lackadaisical approach that finally turned things around. As you see in the picture, we have our own fresh curry leaves.

Perhaps there is lesson here for all helicopter parents (I think we are broken choppers — R hovers and I stay back, so M is utterly confused :) But based on this experience I’d posit that stepping back allows them to thrive.

I say this as I turn down all the volunteer opportunities in school. After all I am demonstrating care by not caring.