Having a garden is a bit like having a baby.
The satisfaction and fulfilment it gives you is very hard to describe to non gardeners. You can easily talk for hours with a fellow gardener about how is this or that is doing at the moment; or share frustrations of what is not working out as planned. Every few days you notice a change. Something is growing, flowering, fruits start to show and grow, plants go to seed and eventually die.
In just a few months, you can observe the full circle of life and be an active part of it.
From putting the seeds into the ground, to nourishing the plant, harvesting (and eating, yumm) the fruit and finally saving the best seeds for the next season. You get more aware of the weather, scared about frosts and happy about rain (yippie don’t have to water the garden!).
Just like with children, you also encounter frustrations.
Factors from outside beyond your control, like the cute rabbit that stopped by early morning and ate my 30cm high corn plants right down to 1cm!
But there is not just the philosophical aspect of feeling more connected to nature and Mother Earth.
It also just feels good to dig up your own potatoes, and get your hands dirty.
There is nothing fresher than veggies that you have picked less than an hour before eating them!
In summer, instead of going to the supermarket I just go out in the garden and pick my food.
During a few months we can pretty much compose a full meal from the garden, complemented by eggs from our chickens, hunted meat and sometimes also some wild food from the forest, like mushrooms.
Although a garden takes work, especially at the beginning, there are just so many advantages of growing your own food. It is untreated, fresh, local and must have heaps more nutrients that anything you can buy from somewhere else.
Sometimes you end up with a surplus of a certain fruit and you can preserve it for winter, which is a whole science by itself. Or you can swap it for other things. I managed to get some plums for my zucchinis 🙂 And I remember a post from a Hawaiian friend who was trading his avocados for anything else he needed. Somehow going backward to pre-money times feels quite good too. Guess it makes you feel less dependent on money.
Independence is another advantage of growing as much of your food as you can. It creates food security for you and your family.
Right now, I’m still pretty new to gardening but luckily have friends and family who I can always ask for advice. I could borrow two fantastic books, that I can highly recommend for gardeners in Australia and New Zealand. The Permaculture Home Garden even explains a concept of how to grow enough food to live on during the whole year!
At some point I would love to do a permaculture design course to learn more about natural and sustainable growing methods.
Gardening is also great for kids.
In the days of a food growing ignorance developing within society, having your own garden is a fantastic way to show your children where our food comes from, seeing a tiny plant grow, how some fruit change color when they get ripe, and even being responsible for taking care of one plant, watering it etc.
Starting your own garden is a very interesting alternative with more and more people concerned about where their food comes from and what has been done to it.
I would like to encourage anybody with a little bit of space and time to get into it. It’s easier than you think and you sure won’t regret it 🙂
Jamie Oliver TED talk “Teach every child about food” Interesting but also scary TED talk.