Why do we garden?

I get this all the time. Why do I garden? Why do I labor out in the hot sun, working to grow my food when I could just as easily—okay, WAY more easily—go down to Kroger and buy all the veggies I want? That’s a valid question. Here is the answer I give. Well, sometimes I give an answer. Other times I just look at the questioner like he has two heads, which really messes with his head, ‘cause I think he can actually READ my mind and then he starts to see himself the way I see him, which is with two heads, and that REALLY messes with his mind—but I digress.

The answer I give is this: “Have you tasted the veggies that come out of Kroger?” Probably not, because they taste like, well, NOTHING. Sure, they look good and they are HUGE, but there is no taste. And taste developed to let us know when the food we are eating is actually GOOD for us. If it tastes like ^#@^&, then it is probably only good for the compost pile. So, the primary reason I grow food is because I want my veggies to taste like food is supposed to taste. The carrots are sweet, (look, don’t let my wife see this part, since I have her convinced I don’t eat carrots, which is true, since I don’t eat the carrots out of the store), the cilantro is, well, pungent. Okra is slimy—I mean even right off the plant, which is how I like it. And the tomatoes, well, let’s just say they taste like the tomatoes in Kroger only WISH they tasted. The point is that home grown veggies taste like they are supposed to taste.

The other reason I grow food is because it is COOL! For the first time in I-don’t-know-how-many centuries, growing food is COOL. Now I don’t know what word they used back in the 1800’s, because back then growing food was simply what everyone did. Growing food was the equivalent of “not HUNGRY!” But even then it wasn’t COOL, like it is now. I mean, go to a dinner party and bring along a bucket of fresh, home grown tomatoes, and you are the LIFE of the party! It is the equivalent of showing up with a case of beer when you were, oh, 18! Now, as an adult, fresh veggies are the best way to get … well, you know—noticed at a party.  And you don’t even have to wear a wife-beater undershirt or spend time at a smelly ol’ gym.

No, you can show up with a farmer’s tan and a bucket—let me interject here that when you bring fresh veggies, bring a LOT! Don’t be skimpy with it. You are all about ABUNDANCE! Show it! You not only produce home grown veggies, but you produce them in copious amounts, yeah verily, VOLUMES. So, you stride in all confident, with your muscled bare arms all tanned, your hair highlighted from the sun and in your BUCKET a veritable cornucopia of garden delight. You bring tangy tomatoes, hot peppers, pungent cilantro, crisp onions and, voila! Pico de gallo! That’s like showing up with crack. Well, maybe not exactly like that, but amongst a bunch of foodies, it’s pretty close.

So this is why I garden. It is something I enjoy. It’s not fattening. It’s not addictive (okay, that one may not be true). It is something I can talk about with others who are interested in food and good health. And it makes me cool. More than that, gardening is how I relate to the world around me. I have been doing it for many years—gardening, that is—and I am still fascinated with how it works. When the soil is right and when everything works together, I can grow nutrient dense food that tastes great and did not depend on a bunch of synthetic fertilizer or chemicals. It is earth friendly, which is how EVERY gardener wants things to be, since, why would a gardener want to hurt Mother Earth? I mean, she is the one who makes it possible for us to grow what we grow and get the recognition we get. ‘Cause, let’s face it, even though we would garden even if no one noticed, the accolades are pretty sweet, just like our produce.

And that’s just my perspective, from a “man out standing in his field.” That’s me, the one with the huge, uh, cornucopia. 



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6 Responses to “Why do we garden?”

  1. Amelia Linde Says:

    I am so grateful for your blog. You are getting me ‘garden ready’ and I’m excited about the crop I will be brining in this year with your help! I’m putting the stuff you sent me in the little bottles pretty soon to get the soil ready. Got any suggestions on Soil before I get going?

  2. michaellabelle Says:

    Amelia, if you haven’t done a soil test, and I suspect that is the case, then the following is a pretty good plan for Dallas soils.

    Pick up a bag of gypsum at HD or Lowes or a nursery. I would put a liberal amount on the soil and then work it in. Next you need some well composted organic matter. If you don’t have any available, you can get something that will work from Living Earth Resources in Plano or you could check out Rhodes in Garland. He’s a great resource, so make him your friend. Tell him I sent you. Who knows, maybe he will want to carry my fertilizer. In fact you could ask him if he carries it. Be prepared with one of my cards. 🙂

    After you get the soil somewhat prepared, prepare to do the lasagna composting on top of the soil. For now just locate something you can use as a mulch, such as old leaves or grass clippings or whatever. Don’t complicate things too much. Just keep it simple and you should do fine.

    The gypsum will provide MUCH needed calcium without raising the pH any more than it already is. The other thing you could do is pick up a 5# bag of sulfur flowers, which is just ground sulfur. A good dusting should be all you need. The sulfur will actually LOWER your pH down to a better level.

    Other than that, happy gardening.

  3. Jessica Says:

    Good blog post! I am anxiously awaiting spring so I can start planting again, so this is helping keep me excited!!

  4. BobV Says:

    What is Lasagna Composting?

    • michaellabelle Says:

      Lasagna composting, sometimes called “sheet composting” is a method of layering various materials IN the garden so they compost rather than making compost OUT of the garden which you then have to transport TO the garden. Sheet composting also suppresses weeds and grass. The method of composting most often used by both the home gardener as well as the commercial composting operations is NOT natural. Nature composts “in the field” so to speak by layering material on top of the ground. The material is acted upon by animals, bugs, insects, fungi as well as bacteria. Earthworms take carbonaceous material from the surface and deposit it under ground. The same thing will happen when sheet or lasagna composting is utilized in the garden. It can be successfully employed when you are looking to start a permaculture type garden. See my blog on Planting in Lasagna.

      • BobV Says:

        OK, I wondered if that was it. I’ve done this in the past, just keep on piling up the hay, leaves, grass, etc in place. Over time the soil and compost boundary becomes blurred as earthworms and other agents mix them together.
        By the way, I haven’t tried to plant seeds when using this method since it seemed hard to tell exactly where the proper depth would be – instead it was easier to just use small plants.

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