Inch by Inch

When I was in second grade, we had a time in music class where we learned a lot of folk songs.  My favorite was called “The Garden Song.”  I remember taking the photocopied lyrics home, and setting the paper on our piano.  I would look at it from time to time and hum the melody to myself.

I’ve thought of it my whole life since then, but never actually heard it sung by anyone other than me.

I’m feeling sad right now, due to a dear friend’s failing health.  I know the sadness will only increase when this person is gone – for me, and for countless others.

This morning I woke up and thought, I have got to find that song online.  It’s the kind of thing we do in life, when we don’t know how else to deal with grief.  Or at least, it’s the kind of thing I do.

I learned there is a charming video of John Denver singing it on The Muppet Show.  In addition, I found the lyrics.  And, I keep humming it to myself.


Inch by inch, row by row,
Gonna make this garden grow.
Gonna mulch it deep and low,
Gonna make it fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row,
Please bless these seeds I sow.
Please keep them safe below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling

Pullin’ weeds and pickin’ stones,
We are made of dreams and bones
Need spot to call my own
Cause the time is close at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain
I’ll find my way in nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music of the land.


Plant your rows straight and long,
Season them with a prayer and song
Mother earth will keep you strong
If you give her love and care.
Old crow watching from a tree
Has his hungry eyes on me
In my garden I’m as free
As that feathered thief up there.


Words and Music by David Mallett

One comment

  1. That simple song says so much.

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