Why Gardening?

I want to know everything. I want to have one of those old-fashioned farms where little needs to be bought and nothing is wasted. I want to have a negative carbon footprint. I also want a million dollars to appear in my checking account so I can do that. It’s good to have dreams.

My initial focus is on gardens because everyone can do it. For example, I have some bedraggled lettuce and a sprouted clove of garlic in a windowbox right now. I come from a long line of gardeners and I grew up with garden-fresh vegetables. Having plants around just feels right.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear. I am not a gardener. Yet. Apparently the familial green thumb comes with age. I’m still not sure whether the sad state of my lettuce indicates that the seeds were too old or I’m still too young. This question may be answered in my first garden attempt in years in the new Ranch Community Garden.

Clearly I’m a natural gardener . . .

So what kind of gardening are we talking about? This is about independence, so my main focus will be on what’s edible. A lot of people like the word organic. It is a useful way to differentiate it from the pesticide and oil-heavy modern agricultural practices. However, I will be calling it what my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents called it. Gardening. After all, prior to the 1950’s, that’s what everyone called it.

I will also be focused on native plants and heritage breeds. I remember the excitement every winter when the Burpee catalog would come in the mail. Page after page of fruits, vegetables, and flowers in every variety from black tulips to white pumpkins. The problem with seeds that are so very available commercially is that they are just that- commercial. They have not been bred for the desert like the local fauna. Nor have they stuck around for multiple human generations like the heritage breeds. Between my desire to grow what’s supposed to be here and my intent to learn how to grow and harvest my own seeds, the Burpee catalog is one gardening ritual I will have to allow to fall by the wayside. I am discovering, however, that there are other catalogs that will be available to take its place.

One other benefit to gardening is that I will be reinserted into the circle of life. Eventually, there will be chickens and pigs to help me with the kitchen scraps. Until then, I can’t wait to get the go-ahead to start contributing to the community garden’s compost pile. There will be that much less clogging our sewers and landfills and that much more becoming the rich, dark soil that will feed the plants that will feed me.

It’s winter now. Down-time for most gardeners. In the past, the cold and lack of sun made this a time to be indoors. It is a time of reflection and stories, reading and dreaming. As the sun begins to return, however, gardeners will begin to warm with the land, getting ready for another growing season. For this budding gardener, that means learning in theory what will soon be tested in practice.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by pat converse on January 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    How beautifully you write. Your enthusiasm is infectious. Bravo


  2. Have you heard about High Country Gardens, a catalog-based nursery in Santa Fe, New Mexic, that specializes in xerics, natives, and other western sorts of plants? the link is http://www.highcountrygardens.com/ If you get a chance, you might enjoy checking it out.

    Good luck! Gardening is an adventure for a lifetime!


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