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  • Writer's pictureBrian Wells

100% of the Seeds You Never Plant Will Never Sprout

100% of the seeds you never plant will never sprout. I really wish I could remember where I ran across this quote because I would be more than happy to attribute it to its rightful author. When I heard this quote, I kind of went back in time to my days of going through theology school. When we would hear something profound, we would say, “that'll preach.”

Whether we’re talking life in general or we’re talking homesteading it rings true. 100% of the seeds you never plant will never sprout. Many times we have these great ideas in our head, these visions of what we want to accomplish on our homesteads, but we never take that initial step. We never plant that seed to even give it a chance to grow and bring forth fruit.

As I thought about it, I started to ask myself the question, “why?” What keeps us from planting those seeds?

The first thing that comes to my mind is the fear of failure. We never get started because we are afraid we're going to fail. We don't get chicks because we're afraid they're going to die. We don't plant a garden because we believe we’ve got a “black thumb”. We don't learn how to cook from scratch because we're afraid that what we're cooking is not going to be edible. There are so many ways in which we can fail and we become very creative in making excuses, excuses that keep us from taking those initial steps in the direction of self-sufficiency, self-reliance and sustainability.

The second thing that comes to my mind is this; we don't know how to get started. We want to grow a garden. We want to raise pigs. We want to raise chickens. We want to learn how to preserve food. We want to learn how to make jam and jelly. We want to learn how to bake. We want to learn how to cook from scratch. But we don't know where to start. And so we never do.

The third reason why we never plant that seed is because we don’t know where to get started. There are a thousand ways to get started. We don't know which one to take. And so we just never get started at all. We fall into that trap that sometimes we refer to as “paralysis by analysis.” We want to get started with a garden, but we're not sure whether or not we want to do raised beds? Or do we want to do in-ground gardening? Do we want to try no till? Do we want to do lasagna style gardening? Should we try the Back to Eden method? What about the Ruth Stout method? Should we try straw bale gardening? Or do we want to do square foot gardening? There are so many choices and so we just are frozen in place because we don't know where to get started. And it keeps us from planting that seed.

The fourth thing that comes to my mind is this, we let great get in the way of good enough. We want to have all of our ducks in a row. We want to have a perfect plan. We want to have all of the right gear and not just the right gear, but the best gear. We want the right amount of sunlight, the perfect soil and of course, the most land possible. We want to have a garden, but we live in an apartment. We want to have a milk cow, but we live on a suburban lot. We want to raise our own meat, but our city has an ordinance against chickens. We have this vision of how it's supposed to be. We look around and what we have to work with doesn't measure up. And so we never get started because we’ve let great get in the way of good enough. And consequently, 100% of the seeds we didn't plant never sprout.

What should we do? How do we stop making excuses and start planting seeds?

The best way to get past the fear of failure is to fail and to get back up and to try it again. We need to understand that we ARE going to mess up. We're going to fail. And we need to remind ourselves that it's okay. It's part of the learning process. As long as we learn from our mistakes, we’ll get better and better at the task at hand and eventually wonder why we were so afraid to get started in the first place.

To be fair, some of us are naturally better at this than others. For some people, failure is paralyzing. For people like that (and at times that's me) we're going to have to work at this. We’re going to have to give ourselves grace and permission to fail. But, I strongly believe that the more you fail, the more you’ll succeed (as crazy as that sounds!) Failure doesn't have to be final.

Maybe your struggle has been knowing how to get started. You’re exactly the person I’ve had in mind as I’ve been developing my “Just The Basics” series of printable guides. These guides contain the basic steps to people get started in various aspects of homesteading including seed starting, gardening, chickens, meat chickens, pigs, rabbits, food preservation and much more. Each guide is printable and has a corresponding resource page with examples of equipment and/or more information about the topic. Currently my plan is to release guides about 18 or 19 homesteading related topics. But, it's going to be a work in process for awhile. If there's a topic you're interested in but you don't see a guide available yet, send me an email, If it's not already in the queue, I will put it in the queue to make sure that you have that resource available to you in the future. But, in the meantime I will try to help you out and point you towards some resources to help you get started NOW.

If you are struggling with paralysis by analysis, overwhelmed with the plethora of choices available to you, my advice is just pick one. Try it out and see if it works for you. If it doesn't work out, then pick one of the other ones and try that. And keep doing that over and over again until you find the one (or ones) that work best for you.

If your struggle is with letting great get in the way of good enough, remind yourself as often as you can that all you can do is the best you can with what you’ve got. I’m not asking for you to give up on your dreams. But, don’t let those dreams drag you down. You might not have an acre of land to have the garden of your dreams. But, you have some containers and you can plant some veggies on your patio. You might not have room for a milk cow. But, you can squeeze in a couple of goats. Maybe you can’t have chickens, but you have room for quail or rabbits. You’re going to do the best you can with what you’ve got.

As I close this out, allow me to make a shameless plug for the supporting listeners program. Sometimes what we need to help get us started is a team of people who are willing to cheer us on when we need it, give us a shoulder to cry on when we need it, and give us a kick in the seat of the pants when we need it. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d invite you to check things out by visiting Give the supporting listeners program a try. You may decide that it’s not for you. And that’s ok. Or it might just be what you need to help you start planting those seeds of self-sufficiency, self-reliance and sustainability.

Until next week, keep up the good work.


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