We’ve talked about the wonders of just-picked food, fresh from the farmers’ market, and we’ve talked about Earthing (grounding yourself by standing or walking barefoot on the ground)…but we haven’t yet talked about the best of both worlds – growing your own food within your own micro-ecosystem!
You can’t get much closer to Mama Earth than planting a seed, transplanting a seedling, or tending a growing plant till you see its fruit appear, then ripen – and finally shine out in its full ripe glory, ready for picking…
“But I don’t have any land,” you might object, or “But my property has the poorest soil under the sun!” No worries! There are so many alternatives – container gardens, raised-bed gardens, straw-bale gardens, – even lasagna gardens (which have nothing to do with pasta, and everything to do with rich black soil!)
And you know, the best thing about gardening is the way you learn with every year’s planting.
They say Mama Earth is the best teacher, and I can definitely say that’s true!
The first vegetables I ever planted were tomatoes in a container garden. Oh, how happy I was when the first tomato came! I felt like a new mama. There is nothing like the thrill of picking your first harvest and serving it up with pride!
So, full of pride in my achievement, I decided to build on it, with an organic raised-bed garden. Picturing fresh-picked veggies on our dinner table every night, my husband built three 4×4 raised gardens. I was so excited and planted several vegetables. I knew we had a lot of trees and there would be a lot of shade, but I just knew the veggies would grow…you know?
Well, to my disappointment they really did require more sun than we had…so our harvest was limited to the herbs I planted that year. I learned my lesson: for the next couple of years I did tomatoes in a container on our sunny porch.
We moved last year and now have a yard with lots of sunshine! My husband put down a single 4X4 garden (starting small this time) and I planted eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and parsley, and everything started growing beautifully. I was thrilled! I harvested two zucchini, an eggplant and a yellow squash.
And then the word apparently got out! More veggies were coming in, but one day there was a deer munching on the squash leaves, another day a rabbit and then what really took everything out was the gopher. I sprayed a natural mix of cayenne pepper, garlic and black pepper essential oil on it. That deterred the rabbit and deer, but the gopher was determined and then I went out of town to visit family, leaving the field wide open for munching!
Long story short: most of the veggies are now gone. And I’ve learned another lesson: when you’re planting in wildlife territory, buy a wire fence or chicken wire to cover your crop; those animals surely believed I planted it all just for them. After all, they were here first, right?
Thankfully, I have my container garden, and a lovely crop of tomatoes, orange peppers, chili peppers, and herbs. This fall I am going to plant some broccoli, cauliflower and greens, and will cover them.
So what insights can I offer you from my gardening experience? Well, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that we live in an ecosystem: we can try our hardest, but our results depend on how well we interact with the sun, the water (rain and groundwater), the soil, the pollinators, and the wildlife. It’s a good idea to have backup systems in place – if the raised-bed garden doesn’t work out, have a container garden as your backup. Start small, and don’t put all your seeds in one garden (so to speak)!
And the second lesson I’ve learned is to do it for the experience…as a dynamic relationship with the Earth. If you go in with an attitude of “I’ve Got to Win!” and something goes wrong, you’re setting yourself up for stress and frustration. But if you go in with curiosity and creativity, seeing how you can interact with your ecosystem so that you get food while recognizing that the critters around you also need to eat, you’ll get more enjoyment out of watching the visitors that come to your yard.
I’ve found some good tips for creating a backyard habitat comes to our gardens HERE.
Enjoy your ecosystem!