Monday, August 10, 2015

The Joy of Gardening

Plant this one year and it will pop up
all over your garden year after year
as a "volunteer" 
It can be used in salads and the bees
love it!

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul" ~ Alfred Austin

August is here in all it's glorious abundance. Every year we plant a garden and the spend much time preserving all the excess to enjoy over the winter. Although we were late in planting this year as we were away for most of May, with the rain we had earlier in the season everything grew quickly and is now producing lots of goodies for us. This morning we harvested the garlic and have it drying before we get more expected rains, and we have been eating chard, greens, beets, carrots, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, peppers, cilantro and basil every night. How wonderful it is to go into the garden and come back with an arm load of fresh veggies to plan a meal around... The tomatoes and cole crops promise to start yielding shortly as well, and the apple trees show lots of promise. And although freezing and drying is a lot of work it is such a treat to have our own vegetables available to enjoy during the winter!

The manure we get from our livestock has enriched the soil and after almost thirty years of adding manure and picking rocks the soil is now amazingly rich and fertile. While we do use some
Swiss Chard
My first year
growing this high yielding,
nutritious, versatile and
beautiful green!
black plastic to stay ahead of the weeds I do spend every day weeding out the row crops and these greens get fed back to the goats. Each day brings new discoveries and treats and spending even a few minutes in the garden brings peace and relaxation.

In today's hectic world and the reports of GMO labeling, bio security and out breaks of E coli, having at least a little control over one's food supply gives a great sense of satisfaction, brings us closer to the natural world and  is just plain healthier, not just for us but for the environment as well. Even if we can't grow much it is super easy to grow a few herbs in pots to spice up our meals, and if you don't have room for an actual garden, plants like tomatoes and peppers do well in containers. Instead of buying produce from the grocery stores that may have been shipped thousand of miles and treated with preservatives and who knows what else, try supporting your local farmers markets and farm stands as much as you can. CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) are a great way to get fresh vegetables and support the farmers in your community.
While I don't grow corn I always buy it from my favorite farm stand and freeze enough for winter. Berries are super easy to freeze, and I love drying cherry tomatoes and using them in pastas later. Every year as I plan the garden I try new varieties of plants and flowers and am always richly rewarded, not just with the final fruits from tiny seeds but just from the process and the beauty of it.