Running late as usual, I hopped into my big old 15-passenger van and took off for the babysitter’s house. The uniquely familiar odor filling the van hit me right away. Maybe if I rode with the windows open, the babysitter would never need to know what was causing that pungent smell.

Such are the quandaries that marriage has introduced into my life—specifically, being married to a gardener. It’s a life filled with . . . wonderment. And at that moment, as IGardeners are just not ordinary people gracefully explained to the babysitter why there were 500 pounds of manure in the back of my van, I needed to remember how blessed I was. Her expression revealed that she had not yet cultivated a sophistication for such finery, but alas, she was still young. I too once believed that green beans grew from cans, and strawberries from the freezer. At the very least, she would appreciate the extra weight smoothing the ride home as our old van rumbled over the bumps and potholes.

Gardeners are just not ordinary people. They note the change in seasons by the arrival of summer and winter seed catalogs, they measure property sizes by possible tomato yields, they live in growing zones instead of states, and they have an uncanny sense of always knowing when it’s going to rain—regardless of the weather outside.

My introduction to the gardening way of life came shortly after the chupah, the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony named for the canopy the couple stands under, symbolizing the creation of their home and life together. In a slow, almost ceremonial manner to accommodate its extreme mass, my new husband moved a bark-covered, moss-enhanced wood structure into our apartment. At the time, I did not realize the significance of this event. Looking back now, I see that it rivaled the chupah in its symbolism and sanctity, except that under the chupah I prayed that our life together would last for an eternity, and upon seeing his planter, I petitioned the heavens that the half-life of wood and bark was not very long. It was a little concerning, but I was aware as a young bride that men can be a little quirky.

Thankfully, our life together blossomed, while the moss and bark decomposed. Naively, I thought that would be the end of it—until years later, when I stepped out of our apartment to where a small neglected patch of sand, dirt and rocks once sat. In its place there was lush green foliage, with chubby little boys sitting and munching green beans! Yes, I knew we had sons—but I could never have imagined that beans grew from the ground of all places, and how extraordinary they could taste.

As the children grew in size and numbers, so did the gardens. From the window of our first home, I looked out one day to find my husband with a bandsaw in hand, tzitzit strings flailing wildly, while trees fell in all directions. This offered a great deal of excitement for the children, and ample opportunity for heartfelt prayer for me. He set the children up with their own gardens and worked with them to grow their plants. They saved the first fruits and vegetables of each crop for Shabbat, and beamed when they found them in the meal. We even had berries for dessert, and fresh flowers on the table . . . as long as our little farmers didn’t lovingly drown them.

The children learned to save seeds from whatever they were eating: melon, peppers, apples. I once watched as chubby, hope-filled fingers extracted the “seeds” from a chocolate-chip ice cream cone—precious!

The children took their passion for planting with them to yeshivahs and camps, growing seeds on top of their bureaus and behind kitchens. They shared their enthusiasm and results with their father in phone conversations meant only for those on the inside: “Really? Asian pears in zone 5? Amazing! Yashar Koach—great job!”

What I had not realized was that along with that bark-covered atrocity, this crazy, wonderful gardener had brought something magical into our lives. He brought a simple faith that if you stick a seed into the ground, something wonderful will grow.

This quality spilled out of the garden into many places of our life together: the courage to start businesses; the audacity to have an unacceptable amount of children; the conviction to raise them religiously; and the moxie to drive long distances with them all. It was a faith that I grew to depend on—when he planted seeds, it would always seem to rain, and when he said everything would be okay, it calmed my fears and restored my faith. This ingredient was not only for growing vegetables, but essential for success in anything we would do.

TheThink good, and it will be good Lubavitcher Rebbe is often quoted as saying, “Think good, and it will be good.” My mentor taught me that this means: “Our believing that G‑d will make it good, can make it good.” Our thoughts create the healthy soil for good to grow in. She explained further: “We are commanded to trust that G‑d will make it good. And we must believe deeply. When we worry, we doubt G‑d’s ability. G‑d is a loving father; He will take care of us.” She even comforted me by mentioning that this did not come easily. “Faith is a service, and we must work at it.”

There are things about being married to a gardener that still take some getting used to—like the uncanny way it rains on cue, and the uncertainty of never knowing what I will find inside our van. While most of our city neighbors work tirelessly to maintain their beautiful lawns, ours is almost gone—replaced by the awe on the face of a child pulling out a rutabaga, and the wonder of harvesting fresh potatoes where saggy ones were pushed into the ground. Through the miracles happening on the once-lawn, I am reminded that “thinking good” creates the healthy soil that good grows in, and that I must work hard on strengthening my own faith.

I have watched G‑d fulfill the faith of the gardener, who taught me that if you put a seed into the ground, something wonderful will grow.

Perhaps a special place should be established under the chupah . . . to put a planter.