Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Growing Your Own

One way to add more fresh, organic, and locally grown food to your diet is to grow some of it yourself. My father planted a garden most years when I was growing up, and I have done the same most of my adult life. This activity is more than a family tradition; it’s a way to teach my children how people need and depend on the earth, how to be good stewards of the planet, and how to provide for our basic needs. Each of these lessons can be learned in other ways, but gardening is active hands-on learning, the kind of learning you are likely to remember for a long time. I haven’t forgotten the gardens of my childhood: the cherry tomatoes that overflowed one year, or the carrots that would only grow the size of our thumbs.

Even if you don’t have land to plant on, you can grow herbs in pots, or seek out community gardens and exchange your labor for a share of the harvest. I’ve seen the topsy turvy hanging planters for sale everywhere this year. We even bought a hanging bag to grow strawberries from a school fundraiser, but haven’t tried it yet. I’ll let you know if that works out in a future post.

This weekend, I weeded our garden and my daughters helped me harvest. We garden organically, so the weeds must be pulled, the ripening fruits checked for bug and worm damage, and the affected ones removed to prevent future problems. I had weeded half the garden last week, so things moved at a good pace. I find weeding to be a good use of my time. It requires concentration, so it clears my mind of all the problems I’ve been thinking about, and I can see the progress I make as I go. I do not get the same sense of accomplishment from other repetitive tasks as I do from seeing the garden cleared of weeds.

Then, nothing is more satisfying than harvesting and eating what you’ve grown. In the picture below, you can see our bounty for the week: roma tomatoes, romaine lettuce, rosemary, mint, and oregano. 

Two days later, the tomatoes, most of the lettuce, and some oregano have been eaten. Some of the mint is brewing sun tea as I type, but we are still enjoying the rest of the herbs as a bouquet. 

The idea to make an herb bouquet came from my friend Alice, who used some herbs with wildflowers in the wonderful arrangements she made for my wedding. I enjoy the aroma of herb bouquets, and they make the herbs easily available for cooking use. Also, many herbs have medicinal properties; for example, the essential oils of both rosemary and oregano are antiviral, antibacterial, and immune stimulating. When someone in my family is sick, I place herb bouquets throughout the house to clean the air, promote healing, and strengthen our immune response. More about the medicinal uses of herbs in a future post.

I want to hear from you; what are you growing? What would you grow if you could?


  1. I planted a garden in our backyard again this year. Last year, it all got eaten by gophers - very disappointing. But I did some more preventative work and so far so good :) Just harvested some bok choy yesterday. The other stuff still has a while to go since I planted at the end of April. Tomatoes, spinach, corn, squash, rainbow chard, kale, carrots, onions and a few more things.

  2. Mieke, I hope the gophers stay out of your garden and that you have a great harvest. I'd like to learn how you serve bok choy. I've only used it in stir frys and salads. Also, is it easy to grow?


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