All of the colorful leaves have fallen to the ground. Temperatures are dropping. Christmas is close enough to taste. And whispers of winter are in the air. Earlier this year I wrote a post about my new journey, starting an organic garden. I look at that garden space now and see only brown leaves and weeds. So I’m sure you’re wondering how the journey went, right? As with anything new, there were things that I learned along the way..some things were better or easier than I expected while other things were harder than I expected. If you’re considering a garden, here are some things you may want to consider.
My primary reasons for having a garden were to gain more control over the food that I was putting in my and my family’s bodies, to teach my kids how to garden, and to gain new skills. I found out that having control over my food has some challenges.
On the upside, finding non-GMO, heirloom seeds was pretty easy. There are several sites online that are committed to quality seed distribution. Finding soil, on the other hand, turned out to be impossible. I purchased potting soil for the seeds that we started indoors. From what I could determine via online research, I think the potting soil was organic, but information was not clear or abundant. I was left feeling a little unsure about it.
When it was time to move our seedling babies outside, organic topsoil proved to be nonexistent. I visited garden centers, called landscaping centers, and consulted friends and experts. Not one person could tell me of a source for truly organic (chemical-free) topsoil. For starters, to be truly organic means that it wasn’t extracted from a chemically treated lawn area. If you ask the right questions, you’ll find that this is near impossible to find. I refused to purchase chemically-laden topsoil so I opted to go without it. We got some old, untouched soil from an ancient compost pile on our property, laid the little bit of that we had, and prayed for the best.
Fortunately, before long we had plants springing up in rows- carrots, green beans, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, cabbage, and tomatoes. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get large amounts of food… and I mean LARGE amounts! We had more zucchini, tomatoes, and green beans than we could possibly handle.
In fact, one of my biggest lessons through the journey was that I was unprepared to deal with the size of the harvest I reaped. I had planned to also take up the art of canning. However, time wasn’t my friend. The produce was coming and beginning to go bad before I could get around to doing anything with it. We couldn’t eat it fast enough so we ended up giving away a whole lot of food (which I was happy to do!). A welcome surprise throughout the process was how good it felt to give away high quality, safe, and nutritious food to friends and family.
One of the other big challenges was growing cabbage. We had a bad case of cabbage worms…little green caterpillars that hatch on cabbage heads by the tens every day. We spent hours hand picking off worms in order to avoid using pesticides. In the end, we lost some cabbage completely. I also found a couple large slugs crawling out of a washed cabbage head after I brought it into the house. That really creeped me out. I think I’ve decided that cabbage is better bought in the store than grown in my garden.
It was a lot of fun to learn gardening and teach my kids what I was learning. It was a great hands-on homeschool project and could be generalized to so many other lessons about keeping our bodies healthy and the ecosystem which lives in the “soil” of our own intestines. The boys were very eager to eat healthy food since they had grown it themselves. This was a big plus!
In my initial gardening post, you may remember that I wasn’t sure I’d get any enjoyment out of the journey because I’m not a green thumb type of person. Surprisingly, I found myself eager to go to the garden every day to pick weeds, see the progress of each plant, and harvest the produce offered for that day. In fact, I even found myself loving the whole process…except for the time the garter snake popped up beside me and scared me half to death!
Will I do it again next year? Yes, I think I will. I’m ready to try new kinds of plants and continue learning how to perfect the art of organic gardening. I’ve gained many things through this journey including better health, time with my boys, a deeper knowledge of God’s creation, and a new way to experience the outdoors.
For now I will be snuggled up in a blanket, watching the snow from inside my warm home and planning for the new plants of next spring.
Here are some pictures of the blessings we received…