Where did I start?
I have a long history of home and garden projects stretching back to my childhood. My family bought 10 acres of land on the Southern Oregon coast in 1970. The property was 7 miles up a winding country road from a small coastal town. It had great soil and two springs for gravity fed water. My dad started a rhododendron nursery on the property and my 4 older brothers and sisters and I grew up helping with cuttings, potting up rhododendrons, hand watering, and picking up wind blown plants.
My childhood was steeped in a culture of planting and growing and living life on a small homestead. We had a large family garden area, an orchard, and an assortment of farm animals in addition to the rhododendron nursery. Some of my earliest memories were formed in the garden as I watched my mom and dad digging and planting the garden. Each of us kids even had our own little garden plot to plant and tend to.
Why am I still digging the garden today?
I think a garden is a thing of beauty. My garden is my canvas to create with vegetables, trees, flowers, stone, and wood. There is opportunity to combine color and texture and add balance and symmetry. A garden is an ever changing and growing work of art. “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” — Claude Monet
I actually enjoy using the energy in my body to create beauty, growth, and ultimately sustenance. The wheelbarrowing, digging, turning, spreading, raking, and weeding is physical work. An hour digging in the garden is an hour I don’t need to go to the gym. I can stand back and gaze at my creation with satisfaction. Gardening is appealing to me on a physical level as well as emotional level.
There is value and joy in eating organically grown vegetables, berries and fruit fresh from my garden. When I buy food from a store I do not know what chemicals it may have been exposed to or how was handled. Growing my own food gives me confidence in the quality, and as an added bonus, I can save money.
I have an independent streak in me. I value knowing that I am able to produce at least a portion of my own food. I want to take some self-responsibility and be able to contribute to food production. I believe there may come a time when the agricultural industrial complex will be unable to produce enough quality food for our population, and we will need to rely more and more on local sustainable food production.
There is challenge and discovery in gardening. Can I out maneuver the earwigs, cucumber beetles, aphids, and slugs? Will the weather cooperate? What day will the first or last frost fall on? What does my soil need for optimal growth? Gardening gives me an opportunity to continue to grow and learn. I can use my creativity to come up with new solutions to solve the problems I encounter. I can learn patience and persistence when things don’t grow as I planned.
Community and Connection
I gain access to an extensive gardening community when I start a garden large or small. There are garden clubs locally and online. I can talk “garden” or share plants and produce with friends and neighbors. Gardening creates a connection to a long history and culture stretching back for thousands of years.
I find inspiration by watching life unfold before my eyes. The journey from seed to fruition and finally decay back to earth is a timeless cycle that transcends our hectic human lives. Gardening gives me a direct connection to the cycles of life we are all a part of. Whatever force gardening has, it tugs on me relentlessly.
I have a suburban homestead in the works right now. The property my wife and I live on with our two daughters is almost four tenths of an acre. I have so much more I want to do with the space including more raised beds, vertical gardening, and bee keeping. I also want to install solar panels, a rain water and grey water reclamation system among a myriad of other projects.
You do not need to start with a suburban homestead! Even growing herbs, flowers, and a few vegetables in containers on your patio is a great way to learn and benefit from gardening. So what are you waiting for? Join me in digging the garden.