This will come as no surprise to those of you who follow my blog, but I strongly feel and emphatically declare the world would be a far better place if everyone had a garden. I’m convinced when people are growing things, they’re much less prone to destructive behavior. Granted, violent extremists (and serial killers) seem beyond redemption, but the rest of humanity would gain immeasurably from a connection with the earth. To cultivate a garden is to commune with the essence of life and the source of all creation.
“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ” ~George Bernard Shaw
I urge planting herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers in an outdoor plot–convert a patch of lawn if need be–or as part of a community garden. This is a particularly good idea because it brings together people of all ages, from the very young to the elderly, and provides wonderful learning opportunities for children while tapping into the storehouse of knowledge many older people have. The interaction between those joined in the common purpose of producing food and beautifying their neighborhood helps cultivate the people along with the plants.
Above pic from the site How To Start A Community Garden.
Our church has a communal garden with small plots for those who ask for them. Folks garden side by side, sharing trials and triumphs and learning together. More churches could do this if they tilled up part of their yard and put in vegetable plots instead of only grass.
Sacrilegious? I don’t think so.
Back to the garden, think sustainable methods, like making compost, and practice organic gardening. Encourage beneficial insects, butterflies, and song birds to make their home in your yard. You’d be amazed how many you can attract just by planting a patch of sunflowers and zinnias.
Anything that rots and hasn’t been sprayed with herbicide or pesticide can be used as mulch, although it’s best to compost the material first. Old hay or straw make good mulch without needing to break down before using. Different parts of the country have various natural material that can be used. Organic matter feeds the soil and encourage earthworms. Remember, as I tell my children and now grandchildren, happy worms make happy dirt. Worms are the gardener‘s friend. Non-hybrid, heirloom seed can be saved for next year and shared with others, and old-time flowers can be divided and spread around.
If digging in the earth isn’t an option for you, try growing plants in pots on a patio, deck, rooftop, sunny windowsill, or under fluorescent lights. These can be fairly inexpensive to set up. I used to have a stand with long fluorescent lights suspended over it about 6-10 inches above the foliage. Raise the lights as the plants grow. You’ll need warm and cool fluorescent bulbs for good plant growth, but not the more costly ‘grow lights.’ Although they’re good too.
A film I really enjoyed about how gardening can reform and transform prisoners is Greenfingers with Clive Owen. The movie is based on a true story which makes it even better, and it’s a love story, another plus, and the fabulous Helen Mirren co-stars. I also really like actor David Kelly. He’s wonderful. The gardens featured are gorgeous and I never tire of looking at Clive. This is a feel good movie.
“Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart. ” ~Russell Page