Friday, May 15, 2009

What gardening means to me

This is the time of year where gardening becomes an all-consuming activity as the work has to be done now. Since all my raised garden beds are now full of topsoil and the weather is warm, I am in the middle of mapping out the best arrangement, amending the soil, sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings. My strawberries are blooming, my asparagus crowns are making an appearance almost 20 days after planting, my peas are coming up and my greenhouse is still in service.

However, it is easy to get overwhelmed--and behind. In fact, I had to push myself to plant some lettuce, carrots, peas and beans by saying "What if your garden is your only source of food?" The truth is relying on my garden for self-sufficiency would have me starving. I only have about 250 square feet of garden space right now, some of which still needs to be reclaimed from sod. While that is more than some people have available, I lack the space to grown sufficient amounts of food to feed myself for an entire year. The dandelion crop on my lawn is truly impressive but currently going to seed and honestly, I am not a fan of dandelion greens.

My motivation for planting a garden is twofold: self-sufficiency and less lawn to mow. Saying that I loathe mowing the lawn is strong but I prefer to put off mowing the grass for as long as I can. With the rains every few days and the cool spring temperatures, the grass (and weeds) are growing vigorously so mowing once a week is expected.

And while my garden is not ready to feed me for an entire year, I will take a few weeks. Plus, it is difficult to argue with fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally and picked at the peak of ripeness. The more I successfully grow and harvest, the better I improve my skills for the future when I have a larger plot of land, the healthier I eat, and the more I save by not having to buy the items in a grocery store. Gradually easing into the demands of my suburban plot, growing more food and figuring out what to do with all the homegrown produce helps me learn what I like to grow, what I do not like to grow or eat, and what techniques work best for me. I am a scientist at heart and I like to experiment. And if I get something delicious out of the deal, that is just a sweet reward.

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