I've already posted an article about gardening and included our garden in my list of 10 favourite things, but I can't help writing about it again because I think it's a fundamental part of enabling a person to live on their terms.
If you have any outdoor space, or near-outdoor space, at all—front yard, back yard, side yard, sunroom, balcony—I encourage you to grow something...even if it's only a window sill on which to grow herbs.
There's something both freeing & purposeful about growing our own of any or all of the following: flowers, plants, shrubs, trees, fruits, vegetables and herbs.
There are many advantages to growing something, anything:
- Saves us the cost of buying the produce and flowers at the store and the cost of watering, mowing and fertilizing a useless front lawn.
- Makes it possible to give a unique gift, such as a bouquet or homemade treat.
- Offers the type of satisfaction that only comes with developing any additional amount of self-sufficiency.
- Reminds us that some things are best made and not purchased.
- Adds beauty to our home, office, yard.
- Makes our living space more interesting.
- Is healthier than the store-bought equivalent because it's picked ripe and is free of pesticides and herbicides (if you so choose).
- Is health-promoting by improving our environment, getting us outside more often and possibly helping us make healthier choices for snacks and meals.
- Takes us away from manmade, often-artificial obligations, even if it's just when we take the few minutes required to water house plants or pick some berries.
- Can give us a sense of purpose that's purely self-imposed, something that no one else dictates, other than mother nature that is.
- Can provide us with new skills and knowledge.
- If you have children, it can help them understand where food comes from.
We benefit from all of the above, thanks to our front and backyard gardening, along with hanging baskets on the front porch and a number of indoor plants. And we're not terribly good at it, but our greenery provides a plentiful bounty:
- 100s of flowers for arrangements all summer long, from long-stem white and yellow daisies to roses, hostas, clematis, lilies and yarrow, there's plenty with which to make many unique arrangements.
- Over 30lbs of apples from a single small apple tree
- Over 20lbs of berries during the summer, including raspberries, chokecherries, nanking cherries, blackberries, saskatoons (conservative estimate—last year was 27 lbs)
- A dozen pounds of rhubarb (good for crumbles, pies and other types of baking or to eat as is if you like the tart taste)
If you don't already have some gardening experience, the key to getting started is to know what's low maintenance and grows well in your climate.
Checking out what neighbours have and getting advice from local owner-operated garden centres can really help in this respect (usually what someone offers as a suggested favourite has made their list because it's a dependable, hardy and beautiful plant). Just asking might even result in getting some offers to divide plants or provide cuttings for you to try.
That's pretty typical of gardeners!
We like to share our bounty when we find that there's too much of just about anything in our garden. Want day lilies, irises, daisies, blackberries, ivey cuttings and nanking bushes? We have plenty and would definitely love to share! Indeed, we've been sharing our growth "overflow" with neighbours and friends for years. It's great to know others are enjoying our extras and we enjoy hearing and seeing what they've done with them.
Once we've made the effort to plant and tend to new plants, bushes and trees, there's really not that much that needs to be done, as long as what we've selected is appropriate for our space (light/shade, water, space, hardy for the area, forgiving if we're not great at pruning/maintaining).
Below are more pics of our bounty, along with more info. I hope these will convince at least a few folks to give growing something a go [other than grass that is ;)].