When the fiance and I started our Master Organic Gardener certification class, we were told that what we were about to learn was going to be a change of perspective more than anything. A paradigm shift. We’ve learned a lot about gardening; how to test our soil, understand the biology and chemistry of soil vitality and how to make compost tea. But at the end of the day, the most important lesson I will take away from all of this is how to see my garden in a completely different light.
Now don’t get me wrong – we were already practicing organic horticulture before we dove headfirst into this class. I certainly wasn’t running around with Roundup in my hip-holster. No sir. But boy oh boy have I had some revelations. The biggest one being – the best way to a fantastic organic garden is to not garden so much! See – told ya, wrap your head around that!
This fall the fiance and I have been on a new gardening adventure – we’re in the process of becoming certified as Organic Master Gardeners through SOUL and Gaia College. So far it has knocked my socks off. Spending 6 hours in “school” a week might seem like a bit much on top of a full time job and life, but it has been well worth the time. We have surprised ourselves not only with how much there is to know, but even more by how much knowledge we’ve already gained through our reading and endless hours in the garden.
The program is split between evening in-class lectures and Saturday afternoons in the garden. Our last Saturday was spent in the pouring rain learning how to compost and picking worms (you know you’re a hard core gardener when). Thankfully today, halloween, the sun came out for us for our garden bed installation class.
Sheet composting is the lazy lady’s way of installing a garden bed. My goodness if I had known about this before we ripped out the lawn . . . I can’t help but shake my head at how much digging I could have saved my poor little arms. Basically rather than going to the bother of ripping up the lawn or making a pile of compost in a corner somewhere, you’re killing two birds and making the compost right there where you want the bed. Continue reading →
It has been a hectic summer. At the beginning of the season we’d said – this summer we’re just going to take it easy and hang out in the garden. We sure spent a lot of time in the garden, but I’m not sure how well we did on the taking it easy part.
The past month has been spent madly harvesting, canning, drying, preserving, cooking, bagging, freezing and eating the spoils from the garden. It has been incredibly gratifying and completely exhausting. I have one, maybe two, more batches of tomatoes to can and a couple of bags of peppers to string up to dry and that will be the end of it.
It will not be, however, the end of the work in the garden.
If you’re anything like me – by this point in the gardening cycle you’re ready to curl up on the couch with the cat and some knitting and not so much as look at another weed for at least 6 months. Unfortunately this is no time to succumb to the couch. My garden needs my attention for just a little while longer.
In the country of Bhutan, they no longer judge the success of their country and society by GDP alone. Now rather than just measuring their country’s production, they are measuring GDH – Gross Domestic HAPPINESS. Yes that’s right. Happiness. You see, they believe that GDP is a means to the end, and have had the courage to ask themselves, as a nation, well then – what is the end, exactly?
The Americans believe in the pursuit of happiness, but I’m not sure how close or far that is from actually finding happiness.
Ok. What on earth does this have with front-yard gardening you say? And you would be right to ask. I think it has a lot to do with it.
The Bhutanese believe that one of the keys to happiness is the quality of our relationships, a sense of belonging, a sense of community and security. Here comes the garden. . .
As you know if you’ve read my earlier posts – we had a bit of a mishap in the pumpkin department. In a crisis of garden faith we planted an extra set of pumpkins, thinking that our initial transplants wouldn’t make it. How wrong we were. However, as with most gardening “mistakes”, this one has been a happy accident. Our ridiculously prolific pumpkin patch is one of our favorite parts of the garden. We may not be able to get into the backyard soon, but it seems like a minor inconvenience in the face of such glorious abundance.
As our patch grew and flowers started to form, we quickly noticed that something was wrong with our would-be pumpkins. The little balls, rather than swelling into a teenage pumpkin were simply shriveling up and falling off. They looked like this poor pathetic soul:
shriveled up would-be pumpkin
The bees in our yard just weren’t getting the job done. A sad fact is that many of our pollinators are in danger of extinction. The vast majority of our food supply relies on pollinators to reproduce and bear fruit. Our indiscriminate use of pesticides, climate change and overwork has pushed our honey bees in particular to the brink of collapse. CCD, colony collapse disorder has rocked the honey bee world in recent years and as of yet, no one seems to know for sure what is causing it. A great book on this topic is “Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis” by Rowan Jacobsen.
If the bees can’t get the job done for us, we’d have to do it ourselves. And so, each morning, my fiance with a coffee in one hand and a Q-Tip in the other, will grin and announce – I’m goin outside to have sex!