At this time of year, after the festivities of Christmas and the New Year, it is time to look forward. As the mailbox attests, planning for this year's garden cannot begin too early!
I have only recently begun to garden earnestly, as I was a "city girl" for quite a while before marriage, and we lived in apartments for the first few years of marriage. But, "What's bred in the bones will come out on the skin", as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Ma would say, and my biggest dream now is of growing the majority of our fruits and vegetables on our own land (And being most of us raw vegetarians, we go through an AWFUL lot of produce!). I have so much yet to learn, and I frustrate myself by overtaxing myself while having small children each year, but at least I have learned to never give up! Gardening makes an eternal optimist out of one (This year we'll finally have that garden!).
I believe that now, perhaps more than ever, a call to gardening on a large-scale basis is necessary. I wonder, as I study our nation's history, what has happened to the government urging its citizens to plant food gardens as a patriotic act? Just listen to this quote by Woodrow Wilson, dated 15 April (Which happens to be my birthday), 1917: "My fellow Countrymen: . . . .Every one who creates or cultivates a garden helps, and helps greatly, to solve the problem of the feeding of the nations. . . . every housewife who practices strict economy puts herself in the ranks of those who serve the nation. This is the time for America to correct her unpardonable fault of wastefulness and extravagance. Let every man and every woman assume the duty of careful, provident use and expenditure as a public duty, as a dictate of patriotism which no one can now expect ever to be excused or forgiven for ignoring."
Somehow I can't picture President Obama giving a similar speech, can you?
I have been intrigued by the campaign of Kitchen Gardeners International, who are seeking to petition Mr. Obama to plant a kitchen garden on the White House Lawn, as an example to his fellow Americans. I hope that their plan will be successful, and that you will take a few minutes, as I have, to add your support by following the link on my sidebar to vote for this action. Just think what would happen if only half of the American population dug up their lawn and planted a garden! Did you know that we as Americans spend as much money on lawn care annually as we do on books? Think of the fuel that would be saved, and the health that would be gained, if we did what our ancestors have done for thousands of years, eating seasonally and locally-grown food. Disease would be reduced greatly, as we stopped poisoning ourselves at every meal with processed, unpronouncable ingredients.
And if every citizen grew just a few vegetables on pots on the veranda, or lettuce and radishes on the windowsill, perhaps we would see a revolution of peacefulness, as there is something very therapeutic about watching something grow that you have planted, and then an almost spiritual feeling of ingesting that same food. The following video demonstrates some of that feeling~~
Perhaps if everyone gardened, we would see armies exchanging cuttings instead of bullets!
I have fallen in love with the French style of gardening, for it is practical and beautiful. They plant vegetables right along with their flowers, and the effect is just as lovely as the most costly, chemical-laden landscape.
If you do not have plans for a garden yet, I urge you to prayerfully consider how this might be a blessing to your family. Grow something, anything you can, and you will be amazed at the transformative power such a seemingly small act can have on you and your family. Oh yes, please include your family in the fun of planning, planting, caring, and harvesting. There are loads of gardening magazines and books available used on eBay for a very reasonable amount, and the library always has plenty of information. Rodale Press is my favorite. I have not read all of their books, but I trust them generally.
One of the other biggest influences for me and gardening is my beloved Tasha Tudor. One of her favorite sayings was that gardening and goat's milk kept her going, and it was really true. Watching her Take Joy and Take Peace videos, one is filled with a longing to walk beside her and learn from her many years of experience. I recently encountered a beautiful video made in Japanese, which appears to have been filmed shortly before her death (Maybe some of you know more about this?). I would like to share it with you here.
May you be inspired, whether you have ever planted a garden or not, to make this year the one where you study and learn all you can about gardening, to bless not only yourself and your family, but untold others, for years to come.
This is the garden's magic,
That through the sunny hours
The gardener who tends it, Himself outgrows his flowers.
He grows by gift of patience,
Since he who sows must know
That only in the Lord's good time
Does any seedling grow.
He learns from buds unfolding,
From each tight leaf unfurled,
That his own heart, expanding,
Is one with all the world.
He bares his head to sunshine,
His bending back a sign
Of grace, and ev'ry shower becomes
His sacramental wine.
And when at last his labors
Bring forth the very stuff
And substance of all beauty
This is reward enough.
-MARIE NETTLETON CARROLL