Contributing Monkie Athena Dietrich
Published on March 1, 2009
The first step in starting a garden is taking the first step. Simply and easily.
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
When people say “I’ve always wanted to grow my own food,” the most commonly stated obstacles that follow are “but I don’t own my own place” or “I don’t want to bother in a rental,” or “I don’t have the time” or “the space” or “the money.”
And while these considerations are valid, they’re not insurmountable. I’ve started nine gardens in the last 13 years – at times growing as much as 90% of my own food – and I haven’t owned any of the properties I planted and beautified. Starting a garden is not like building an addition onto your apartment. And yes, it can be difficult to leave your work behind when you move, but the rewards of initiating the project are more than worth the effort. We all leave things behind, whether it be garbage, junk cars or trails of gossip. I prefer to leave abundant food gardens, beautiful flowers or promising fruit trees.
NO TIME? WORK IT OUT
The initial stages of implementing your garden require physical exertion, so if a lack of time is your obstacle, swap the gym for the yard and take your first steps toward sustainability. Cancel the weight lifting session and carry bags of compost and fertilizer instead. Skip a yoga class and limber up by turning over your garden plot. Rather than checking out the hottie on the treadmill next to you, picture a voluptuous crop of melons, radiantly sun sweetened tomatoes and a six-pack of succulent butter lettuce. With the small amount of money you’ll save from these activities, you can purchase your first packets of seeds.
IT’S NOT HOW BIG YOUR GARDEN IS…
When it comes to plot size, even the smallest of spaces can be adequate. If you hope to grow a lot of food, a small in-ground plot is ideal, but not required. I recently started a small kitchen garden for some friends on their shady jungle lanai in two 3 gallon pots. We planted basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano and chives, and in three weeks we pulled off a small crop of salad.
In addition to having fresh, inexpensive and conveniently located organic food, a garden provides the gift of peace and serenity in today’s hectic world of schedules and obligations.
So, if you love spending time outdoors, eating fresh fruits and vegetables or having quiet communion in nature, gardening could be the pastime for you. The rewards are enormous. In addition to saving money at the grocery store, you’ll enjoy the freshness and vitality of your homegrown vegetables and feel good knowing you’ve done your small but important part to eliminate the use of the fossil fuels in food transport.
Growing and sharing the fruits of your labor is concrete evidence of your commitment to health conscious, ecologically sensitive lifestyle. And the feeling of self-reliance in your ability to provide for yourself and your family is priceless.
Check back for more articles in this series. Up next: identifying your soil type and preparing your site.
Writer photos by Dan Rayburn.