The Clay Pot Connection 
By Ralph Carpio 



I really love gardening.  When we were kids, my father, rarely home as a ship’s captain, made a huge garden in our backyard.  We grew lots of vegetables that I never ate, but it was the collaboration and time spent that I truly loved. Now, as an adult, I no longer live in a house with a big backyard, but my love for dirt and earth and plants has remained. 

So, it wasn’t odd that I began to experiment with different varieties of plants on the front porch of my small home. No longer having a great expanse of land in which to happily toil, I began with clay pots.  At first I began with green bell peppers and had success. I then experimented with a range of tropical plants that thrived in the Florida heat. 

Then one year a friend gave me a bag of limes grown from his backyard and I was inspired. I had a patch of land directly across my porch, enough room to have grown a tree. But for some reason I decided to grow a lime tree in one of my clay pots. I began in earnest by taking a seed from one of the aromatic limes I enjoyed so much and placing it in a glass of water. 

In time, the seed began to open, and I transferred the fragile new growth into a small clay pot. I watered the precious planting, making sure it received sufficient light. As more time passed, the plant grew larger and larger, giving me joy in examining its every detail.  As it grew into a small tree, I was able to enjoy the texture of its leaves and the slight burst of citrus smell that would emanate when I rubbed a leaf between my fingers. 

The tree continued its steady growth and I transferred it into a slightly larger clay pot. Later, I repeated this transfer a final time into another slightly larger clay pot.  Then I got busy with life and other pressing matters and left the small tree alone. I still watered it regularly as it sat on my front porch, but otherwise gave it no further thought. Much later, I noticed that the tree was beginning to wither. Its leaves were turning a sallow yellow. 

As I sat to examine the tree closely, a thought suddenly entered my mind. “It has no more room to grow!”  I followed this inner prompting and decided to remove the tree from the clay pot. This proved to be harder than I had anticipated. It was completely root bound and seemed to almost cling to the very container that was stifling its growth. After a struggle, I released the tree from the clay pot only to discover circles upon circles of roots twisting around in a very unsightly way. 

I proceeded to plant the tree in the small patch of land in front of my porch where it continued to grow into a spectacular sight. Well over six feet in height, it became a shady respite, for a few neighborhood lizards and myself.  One day as I stood back to enjoy the vibrant green of my tree, another thought lit upon me. “Do not contain your own growth!” Somehow I was able to connect the growth cycle of this tree with my own growth. 

I realized that limited thinking had contained my growth much like the clay pot had contained the tree.  I also realized that growth itself is natural and automatic and when we extract ourselves from our own clay pots the result is always spectacular.

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