Much of my life was spent outdoors. As a child I remember being happiest when I was outside covered in sweat and so dirty the water ran brown when I got in the shower. I found a sense of freedom and independence outdoors. Well I’m no longer a child or so they tell me. However, I still take joy in being outdoors and getting my hands dirty. I still believe that mother nature will provide everything we need if only we let her.
I see proof of this everytime I step out the door. There are ‘volunteer’ plants everywhere. The winter squash with the white veins on the leaves is a volunteer. I didn’t have the heart to pull it out. And why should I. Look at how beautiful it’s growing. Do you see the first of the many squash it will provide us?
There it is. It found a nice little bench to lay on. We ate some of these last year (they were growing out of the compost pile) and they were absolutely delicious.
And these tomatoes look so darn happy. Can you see the fruit. It won’t be long before they turn red and sweet. Yep, these are also volunteers. Rather than discourage them I take joy knowing that free wholesome food is just outside our door.
Of course most of the plants in the garden were planted. This is the ‘Sweetie’ tomato we grew from seed. ‘Sweetie’ is an open pollinated variety. You can save the seed and rest assured that any plants you grow will be the same as those from which you picked the fruit.
This is definitely an early tomato. We’ve been eating them for at least two weeks. I think we have 18 of this variety.
We planted one zucchini plant this year. I bought it on impulse after I saw it on a shelf in front of a hardware store. I think it’s called ‘black beauty’ It’s already given us at least 12 zucchini’s (I lost count). Here’s one I picked this morning (see below).
While I have good intentions I’m not always on top of things. I have a trellis for our european cucumbers. You know those long, seedless varieties sold in the store wrapped in plastic.
Well, only about half of the plant is on the trellis. The rest is taking over the aisle space. Those on the trellis are nice and straight. Those on the ground tend to curve a bit (or a lot). I planted 3 seeds. We have 3 plants. And more cucumbers than someone I love very much thinks we need. We eat them fresh each day and also pickled and soon as a relish.
They mature quickly. See the picture above. This is what happens when you tell yourself to wait another day. The one on the bottom is how I like to pick them. The one on the top was waiting one more day and enjoyed 2.5 inches of rain in 48 hours. It weighed 2 pounds 4 ounces and is being made into relish as I write.
Now remember: We do not buy fertilizer. We feed the soil through the use of leaf mold and compost made from whatever organic matter is at hand. All of our kitchen scraps are mixed with leaves and allowed to partially decompose. This partially composted material is dumped into a bin where the worms happily finish the process. Our store bought fertilizer cost is $00.00 (Zero). Our fertilizer cost is the cost is our labor.
Gardening doesn’t need to be expensive. A rake, hoe, garden fork or spade and a little space with sunshine. Some seed or plants. That’s really all it takes in capital. What a garden really wants is a little of your time.
Time well spent. Time spent observing; learning to hear what the plants and soil are telling you. Time spent outdoors getting your daily dose of vitamin D; placing kitchen scraps in the compost bin rather than the trash; gathering up the fall leaves that others have set out as trash; getting some exercise; feeding the soil…so that the soil can feed you.
I’ve always enjoyed working with plants. I’m fortunate in that my mother allowed me to dig up half the backyard when I said I wanted to plant a garden; when she came home and found a truck load of horse manure in the driveway (this was in the 1970’s) she told everyone her daughter wanted to plant an organic garden.
My love of nature was fostered, it was encouraged. I learned to observe; to be patient; and quickly realized that no one spreads fertilizer or pesticides on the forests and meadows which surround us. Nature provides everything they need to grow healthy and strong. Knowledge born of experience and observation is the source of true independence. As is the ability to save seed; and to feed one’s family.
Today those in the U.S. celebrate Independance Day or the day the 13 colonies declared themselves to be an independent nation free from the British Empire. Today I celebrate independence day by making sure we have the ability to save our seed, to grow our food. Happy knowing that not all seed has been patented; not all seed is owned by multinational corporations. Declaring the right of all people to be independent of patented seed; the right of all people to grow their own food; the right of all people to save seed.
The day we lose the right to save our seed is the day we truly lose our independence.
Happy Independence Day everyone.
“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.”
― Susan Polis Schutz
“The myth of “free choice” begins with “free market” and “free trade”. When five transnational corporations control the seed market, it is not a free market, it is a cartel.”
― Vandana Shiva