How It All Began

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I was teaching a Mental Health First Aid certification course, this weekend, when I got into a lunch conversation about gardening and canning fruits and vegetables. One of the participants was an avid gardener who told me that she was often chastized for the work it took to create and maintain a garden and can your own food. Other people at the table were also gardeners (on a smaller level), and the conversation turned positive. They indicated that they have noticed that in today’s world, gardening is making a comeback for many reasons. Then, I was asked, “Why did you start gardening?”

Well, I come from a large family where I was the oldest of my siblings. My mother had a small garden, and I was the only one mesmerized, from an early age, with the idea that we can work this piece of dirt, plant a seed or two, and somethng amazing grows. From that plant, we can be nourished. During my youth, as I heard the biblical stories of Creation, I automatically equated Mom’s little garden to how God created man in a garden. Since then, I have always tended a garden of some semblence.

I guess you can call my garden, “My Happy Place.” It’s my stress reliever, my exercise, my place of silence and peace, my shared experience with my family and friends who have become part of our family, and my place of shared creation. It is my outdoor place where I can be still and pray or meditate or just breathe and listen to the sounds around me. We also use the garden as the backdrop for outdoor activities and gatherings and as a place to teach others about growth, health, food, and canning. As the space develops into something more and more beautiful, we will use it for more… or less… depending on what our needs or calling might be.

To me, my garden depicts life in all of its beauty. It has strengths and weaknesses which are influenced by the environment and the people it encounters. My gardens have experienced some disasters (like last year’s wide-spread blossom-end rot) which have taught me some resiliency skills, as well as some patience. Each time, though, the garden and I have bounced back and remained alive and kicking. Overall, like life, the garden provides many more positive things than negative, and it always bounces back to being a productive life. It symbolizes the life cycle and how, if nurtured, a life can and will thrive. My gardens give me more than plants and food: My gardens provide feelings of hope and faith, and well…

…isn’t that everything?

 

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My Little Place of Pleasure

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LindyMal sent me an email, asking to see some of my garden, so I thought I would share a little of my little gardening world. Many people have different ideas about gardening. When I was a little girl, our family had a garden, because it helped us to eat good food and lower our grocery costs. I was the one who loved to work in the garden and preserve some of our food.

2015 Garden

Much of my adult life has been a challenge. Gardening offered me some relief. Not only is it good exercise, but it provides food as clean and organic as I choose. It helps me save money and have some control over the health of my family. I find gardening to be therapeutic, and it offers the opportunity to be creative (See the potato bags I tried?). My favorite benefit comes when I watch the kids and grandkids working and helping, getting excited when their seeds break through the ground, and spending time with me.

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I get to try to grow… and eat… food that I may not have ever tried. Sometimes it is an accident! For example, I planted what I thought was zucchini, this spring, but it grew into a beautiful, yellow crook-neck squash. I had to ask my FaceBook friends what on earth to do with crook-neck squash. It turns out that anything you do with zucchini, you can do with crook-neck. My first crook-neck adventure was to make a chocolate squash cake which was beautiful, moist, and delicious. Yummy!

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Another valuable characteritic of gardens is that it gives me the opportunity to share. I created one garden bed for my mom and four smaller ones for kids to grow their own items. Many people who are driving or bicycling past our house, often stop to ask about the garden. It’s always funny when I meet a stranger and say what neighborhood I live in, and they ask me if I live close to the crazy lady with the big garden. Yes, folks. That is me.

Like my garden, I am a work in progress. I spend time there, thinking, learning, and finding ways to better myself. Some days I work hard, and other days I am kind of lazy. Gardening has taught me much about patience and the joy found in delayed gratification. The only thing I don’t do there is sleep. I love my garden, and I hope that you get as much nutrition and pleasure from yours as I do from mine.