|Garden August 2012|
Oh, no, not another garden blog!! Yes, another. But this one is in response to a question which came up during a conversation with a new gardener: Why do I garden? And that is a really, really good question, because I have always been bad at it. Or at least that is my conception of my ability.
Mother was the perfect gardener. Never a weed to be seen and nothing dared not grow. I can remember gardens back to preschool days when we had a truck garden that covered a whole acre of land. And sold veggies at a road side stand in the summer and fall. We also sold eggs and puppies but that is another story.
My first garden of my own was in 1972. I was being earth mother. I raised goats, angora rabbits, geese and zucchini. I had never eaten a zucchini in my life but it was the only plant that survived Solomon and Sheba my two angora goats. Friends sent me cookbooks and recipes for zucchini and my collection of "Goats Don't Eat Zucchini" recipes for a future cookbook and cooking column began. Again another blog.
My failures from that first garden and the successes seemed to spur me on to try again and I got better. But then I was a gypsy for years living in apartments with no soil. I discovered and failed at the container garden with a success here and there. Aah, the year of patio tomatoes in Missouri!!! But since my failures seem to out number my successes why do I garden. I posed the question to some Facebook friends.
My photographer friend, Terry Atkins Rowe replied, "Love how it connects me to the seasons, and it's a small way to 'paint' my surroundings." That is very true for me too.
And Catherine in North Carolina wrote, "Gardening for me takes me to my Zen zone . . . totally focused on the moment and not thinking beyond making sure the task is done well." Yes, I can seen the Zen thing, but for me it is challenging my perfectionism. I am learning to accept that at this thing I am not perfect but I can still enjoy it lots.
Heather, my ether friend of many years in Australia replied, "I spend as much time in the garden as I possibly can. Hate being inside. I do all my thinking at this time. I find it calming and rewarding and like you, I don't mind getting my hands dirty. The sun on my shoulders on any given day will always lift my spirits." Amen, Sister. I was told by a physic friend that playing in dirt is grounding. As a child it was mud pies, and in winter it is repotting my plants. And summers it is attempting to do a not so perfect garden patch.
Cheryl says, "I am a student of the Art of Happiness, and gardening is one of my necessary textbooks. I love the design aspect of it, the sense of abundance I feel when I am able to pick a sweet cherry tomato, for instance, and pop the sun-warmed little beauty into my mouth. I love getting together a bouquet for some room in my house that I didn't have to bring home from a store. I love planting and dead-heading and watering by hand, which allows me to check in with each plant every single day that watering is needed. I feel more connected to Spirit while working in the garden or sitting in the garden than I ever have in a church. And I really love to sit in the shade on a summer morning and enjoy the beautiful little world that wouldn't be there if I hadn't worked hard to make it so." Wow, that says it all.
Then James, a friend of my sister's that I have gotten to know on Facebook wrote, "Seems to do a number of things for me. Color, I have always loved color and what it does to the world. Texture, how gardening can add so much texture to a setting. Seems to represent vivid life watching it grow and the cycles of life too. It removes me from all of the stress and distracts me from all the problems. It gives me relatively quick results from effort if you'll just get out there and do the effort. I came from a family that constantly worked in the yard and gardens and had the envy of all the neighbors. We probably had the highest water bill too. It takes years to build your soil and learning the science of soil is the clue to success. It's not just a ph thing it's much more than that, you have to work it. Drainage, water, oxygen, placement, propagation, replanting, root trimming, trimming, fertilization, minerals and just knowing your plants what they like and what they don't like specific to the variety. It's a whole library in your mind learned from years of observations and experiments, successes and failures and then trying again and again. It will give back to you what you put into it."
I am not that good at all the science part James mentions, and I certainly have not had the years and years of uninterrupted gardening in one spot. Seems like I just get to the edge of success and I move, or get divorced, or have to move my garden because of an addition to the house, or the climate changes. But still I garden. Why? What they all said. And the joy of popping food I grew into the freezer or dehydrator or mixing up a salad with my greens. Maybe it would have been cheaper to buy all that from the store but not nearly as rewarding. Or as clean and organic and good.