As a family, we’ve been trying various organic food options, markets, stalls, delivery services, even supermarkets, muttering “we really could grow our own this year” while the items beep through the till. This self-imposed sense of powerlessness has been a disconnect from our day to day living for some time: an obstacle to being connected to each moment and connected to nature. However green-fingered our ambitions may have been, making the jump to ‘growing our own’ has always seemed just beyond our reach. Partly due to fear of shelling out lots of money on ‘kit’ for little return, and partly thanks to a tired old notion of myself as not being outdoorsy enough, or not having the knowledge necessary to start. In the past couple of years, I’ve worked really hard on challenging the self-defined concepts of my identity and a big part of this has been getting outside and connecting with nature in a really hands-on way. It’s been a while coming, but this year I made it an absolute goal to get planting; and my little tribe took up the notion with huge enthusiasm.
January was a great time to start. A mistake I’ve made in the past is looking at other people’s gardens flourishing in the early spring, planting in hasty jealousy, then losing interest through lack of longterm planning. This year, we bought a book about gardening with a small outdoor space-The City Grower-which did the tricky planning for us and allowed us to really sink our teeth in. As early as January we started making lasagne compost; gathering scrap wood, palates, oil drums and tires to make planters; and hoarding cheap straw from farm shops. We also researched the most ethical seed options we could find, and found this amazing seed co-operative, which just really enriched our experience of seed buying, by doing in with thought and positive intention. By the time we put our first seedlings into their toilet-roll nurseries in late February, there had already been such a build up that nobody was losing interest this time around.
My three-year-old is a very energetic little person, and I normally engage her with movement, so I was worried about the focus required planting tiny seeds like salad greens. Despite reservations, her fascination and precision with this project blew me away! She needed calm discussions before each stage, but the respect she saw me and Luke have for the precious little seeds proved to be infectious. She spent about 30 mins concentrating really hard during the planting (unprecedented for her). When we popped the seedlings into the beds she was able to take regular breaks in the garden, but really the tasks kept her fully engaged for hours. The seeding were her ‘babies’ and she talked to them all with such love and care that I’m convinced that’s the reason they’re still chugging on now. The jobs were strengthening, benefitted both her fine and gross motor skills and her thirst for knowledge on plant life seems unquenchable.
“Here you go little guy you climb up this one”
Ophelia spent lots of time encouraging the peas & beans to climb their supports
Luke and I have already gained a great deal from the garden too. Both of us are prone to anxiety and stress overwhelm and the garden is another place to seek refuge that actually fits in with our busy lives.
The garden has so much enrichment for us, so much for our family that I gain myself from yoga. Connection, balance, calm and connection. I feel inspired an invigorated by seeing my little tribe out in our tiny terrace house green space.