Though years have passed since I was sitting in that truck bed breaking up clumps of dirt with my feet, I still am brought back to that childlike bliss when I'm reminded of its sensation. Sinking skin into cool, wet clay on a hot Summer day- there's not much like it. What brought me to this reverie was our decision to plant a vegetable garden in the backyard. In the house I grew up in, our family had a garden that provided countless batches of fresh veggies for salsa, salads, soups, and as spices. From ancestral farmers, it's in our blood. While living in modern society with ample super- and co-op markets has not required that I grow my own food to survive, having a home garden invites self-sustainability and a connection to the food I consume. A $3.50 packet of seeds will last many seasons. Onions, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, beans, peas, pumpkin, squash, peppers, radishes, garlic... all a few feet away for no extra cost after planting. It is fiscally and ethically responsible. The produce is organic, fresh, and as local as possible. By growing such quality vegetables, having a home garden also is a form of self-care therapy. Tuning into nature deeply humbles me and allows me to set aside my ego for awhile and open up to broader perspectives such as life cycles and where it all comes from. Tending to a life- be that through children, animals, or plants- is mutually beneficial.
There's an age-old saying: "you reap what you sow"; you receive the results of your actions. What you put in is what you will get out. This has been a big lesson for me through the years and has motivated me to push through the hard stuff to get to the good stuff. In this case, I have blisters on my hands from raking, and my arms were sore after getting the bed ready, but now that it's done I have a fresh plot of dirt to sow seeds. Once the plants start to develop, I will need to tend to them, ensuring a healthy survival. A little effort goes a long way and the pay out is great.
Taking Action: Spring and Summer are the ideal seasons to start a garden, while harvesting occurs through the Summer, Fall, and into Winter. A vegetable garden is an ideal way to incorporate gardening into your everyday, and the physical tending to the garden will act as both mental therapy and physical exercise. The waiting for your vegetables to grow will be painstaking if you tend toward impatience; in this way, gardening may check your character and encourage you to enjoy the process and not hurry for the end result. But when that moment happens- when the veggies are ripe and perfect for picking, the results are rewarding. I planted chives, arugula, and some flowers so far and will add to it as I can. Right now I'm starting small with a couple so I can give them my attention. Better to have a successful small garden than a failed large one. I'm excited to watch this plot of dirt grow into an Eden.
Check back for Part II of Gardening as I report on our progress and give tips on Composting and Tending to Your Garden.