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Create an Enjoyable Garden for Yourself and Your Family

In my previous blog, I encouraged friends to start a garden, even if they felt doing so was intimidating. Recollections of my grandparents' seemingly perfect garden are fresh in my mind, and once I started, I realized that a lot of hard work went into their backyard produce stand. On The Red Hot Chilly Prepper Podcast we explored other benefits of gardening, notably, gardening for the pure love of it. Doing so can create a sense of calm in a chaotic world; give yourself a space for mindful meditation and relaxation.

Looking back almost 20 years, I realize how much of my focus and energy was dedicated to the outcome of my work, rather than the process. I wanted that "perfect" plot. I fretted over weeds, insects and gophers. Were the tomatoes staked properly? Did I get the soil amendments and watering schedule just right? Sure, I was delighted with the results - more tomatoes than we could possibly eat; plump, flavorful eggplant, carrots, radishes, broccoli, and aromatic herbs that all made regular appearances on the family table. But then I would wake up at night and worry about how my garden was doing. Are the irrigation systems functioning? So many tomatoes - will they rot before I can harvest and process them? Whatever will I do with all this zucchini? You get my point...

Since I started preparing, it seems things have only gotten worse in America - inflation, supply chain issues, and animosity throughout society. Escalation of war is a very real concern. Given all this, it is easy to feel compelled to have a productive garden so you can put away a food supply as times get tougher, and even to use now, as a hedge against inflation. These are very worthy and logical reasons for growing your own food.

But I want you to consider another, very important reason for starting a garden: for the simple joy of the process (something I have been working on as I get older). I encourage you to, in spite of what may feel like a strong compulsion to focus on output, garden for other benefits as well.

I started my garden when my sons were very young. They loved helping me; my older son organized the starter plants we purchased at the nursery and helped me put them in the ground. My younger son sat in the mud, excavating with his toy trucks and splashing in any excess water. This was time spent outdoors, in the fresh air, away from screentime and its negative influences. Even though I tended to obsess over the output and "perfection" of the family garden, I am so grateful I took the time to let the boys get muddy, toss tomatoes to the Labradors, hold the hose for these silly dogs so they could chase the water, and enjoy the sound of the birds. I loved to observe the beautiful golden garden spiders that set up shop among my tomato plants. I would even go out at night and watch them, as that was when they were busy tending to their webs.

Given the current geopolitical climate, gardening is so important - for your family and your community. Share and barter your bounty with your friends and neighbors. This is a given. However, take the time to create a space that will promote mindfulness and relaxation. Add some color by taking advantage of companion plants such as marigolds, which will attract pollinators and deter some pests. Consider a bird bath and bird feeders, so you can enjoy their beautiful songs while you garden (I call this my outdoor streaming service!). Create a hydration spot for bees and butterflies, such as a shallow dish with water and rocks so they can access the water safely. Be sure to keep the water clean by changing it regularly.

Maybe incorporate a small water feature that will emulate the sound of a babbling brook, being mindful of the safety of the birds and insects who will gravitate toward it. Perhaps a gravel path and an area to sit and just relax or meditate would work for you. Create a space that will provide sustenance for family and also feed your soul. Close your eyes and imagine such a space. Now go create one!

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Apr 03

You're The Best!!!

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