In my part of the world, the climate allows me to have a garden all year long. Right now I have lettuce, an eggplant, some tomatoes and a perpetual red Swiss Chard that has been growing for about 2 years now.

But a winter garden requires more attention than a summer garden. In fact, it is a mess right now! The lettuce is starting to get a little nibbled and brown at the edges and has never really grown to expectations. For some reason the little purple flowers on the eggplant have not produced anything. It is sturdy, but barren. The tomato vine is brown and the actual fruit gets to a certain redness and then stops. The Swiss Chard seems to bounce back with just a little water…but the size of the leaves get smaller and smaller. Don’t even look at my banana trees, it is simply not banana tree time.

I spent some time this morning watering, pruning and pulling weeds. Not a lot of time, but enough to know that most of the plantings need to be cut back or just uprooted and turned into mulch.

There are times during the year when the growing cycle is right and you can’t hardly do anything to stop the bounty – a little water and everything is fine. But when the climate just isn’t quite right, or the plant isn’t quite right, it takes a lot of effort and the end results are never quite as good.

Just because we CAN grow veggies all year here in California, doesn’t mean that we HAVE to!

In many ways, the lessons of the garden can be applied to my business – to any business.

Just because someone wants me to do a job for them, doesn’t mean I have to.

In fact, I was able to use this lesson last night. The phone rang well after business hours. (Probably a reminder right there – set some hours and check my voice mail on a regular basis.)

After a couple of minutes of listening – to accented English with drop outs from mobile technology combined with the sound of a small child in the background – I still wasn’t sure what the caller wanted. I couldn’t tell if the person was asking me for advice about how to get into voiceovers, or was a potential client.

Turns out it was someone “starting” a marketing company who found my name through a circuitous path that began with another potential client from several years ago with whom I had tried to establish a business relationship, but had had similar incomprehensible conversations (what ends up on the Internet STAYS on the Internet).

After being directed to a video posted on YouTube, that was using a text to speech program for the voiceover, I finally understood what was being asked and was able to direct the client in another direction for their needs.

To tie it back to the garden, the amount of work required to bear fruit in this particular case would have been far more than the fruit was worth.

So, a couple of reminders…

– plant when the time is right

– select good plants to start with

When you nurture this kind of garden, prepare to reap the bounty.