Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A dozen reasons to have a garden

My tomato plants are an endless source of happiness to me as I'm waiting for my favourite time of year, which is called Gardening Season. True, it takes time and energy to bring tomatoes from seedling to harvest, but it's a process that makes me happy to the bone. Nothing tastes as good as a tomato I've grown myself. Or a carrot. Or a potato. You get the idea.

Now that the snow is melting in a serious way, I'm having garden dreams, and thinking and planning what our almost 900 square foot garden will hold this summer. And I'm thinking about all the reasons that everyone should have a patch of dirt for themselves:

1. Fresh air and exercise are good for the body.

2. Watching things grow is good for the soul.

3. Being involved in nature's life cycles is good for the psyche.

4. Digging your own dirt means that huge machines aren't spending enormous amounts of fossil fuels tilling the soil.

5. Planting your own seeds means other huge machines aren't adding tons of carbon to the atmosphere.

6. Pulling your own weeds, while a mindless task, is good for stress reduction.

7. Adding compost from your own compost pile (every gardener needs one!) fertilizes plants without extracting chemicals from the earth.

8. You control the chemicals that you might employ to get rid of bugs or weeds, but if you're like me, you see bugs and weeds as an important and necessary part of our ecosystem, and do your best to live with them.

9. Harvesting your own vegetables means more huge machines aren't polluting the air we breathe.

10. Making a salad (or anything else) from your own back yard means your food hasn't been sprayed with preservatives or picked before it's ripe.

11. It's handy not to have to run to the grocery store.

12. Things grown in the back yard also save your wallet and the environment a lot of shipping and transportation costs.

13. Sharing the bounty with friends and neighbours feels great, but good luck getting rid of zucchini!

Okay, so it's a Baker's dozen, but they're all good reasons. Of course, not everyone has the privilege of tending a garden, so the next best thing is to buy food at a farmer's market where you can meet and chat with the people who grow real food, instead of purchasing what Michael Pollan called "food-like substances" that have been processed beyond recognition.

Sometimes, I daydream about what it would be like if everyone on the planet was able to be involved in growing their own food. I've never met a miserable gardener, so I suspect the world would be a much simpler, happier, healthier, better place.

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