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Lessons from the Garden

Yes, I can tell that life in my urban gardens (1,2, and 3) is slowing down for the coming winter. I'm reminded of what Sydney Eddison wrote in her book, Gardening for a Lifetime:  "of all the lessons that gardening has taught me, the hardest to digest inwardly has been the acceptance of imperfection."  When it comes to gardening, I'm gradually learning to go with the flow and appreciate the glorious moments for what they are--brief and beautiful.  Ben Jonson understand that well.  Perhaps he was a gardener too--he once said, "In short measures life may perfect be."  Key phrase here is "short measures"--that's the part I still need to work on as I tend to expect "extended measures."

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A lot of my pleasure in the garden comes from merely ambling around it wihout any special purpose--just looking at the plants and appreciating them and marveling at my ability to have tended them to maturity and fruition.  I just came inside after a walk through my garden this morning and, in spite of the fact that it is looking a bit raggedy around the edges, it still contains promise of more.

 I was surprised this morning to see the stirrings of a broccoli as I had given up hope on this plant.  Perhaps the lesson here is to have a little more faith.

And my ichiban eggplants (six of them) continue to produce.  I know that next year I'll be sure to plant them again and I'll encourage others who live in Garland to do the same.  Since this is my first garden ever, I can say with some certainty:  "If I can grow it, anyone can."

The only plant in my garden this year more prolific than the egglants has been the okra.  (I'm convinced that okra would survive in Death Valley if it were planted there.)  Below is a photo of one of the ichiban eggplants this morning busily producing more food for me.  As you can also see, the lemon herb plant has gone to seed.  I need to harvest those seeds for myself and the community garden.

 Below is a pot of mixed lettuce that I have growing in a container.  Again, the lessons for me here are twofold: accept imperfection,  keep the faith and don't give up hope as better times may be just around the corner.  Sometimes the best action is no action--although rarely the case in a garden.  Back in mid-September, I almost yanked this lettuce out of the pot.  It was looking so pathetic and had been for about a month. I had decided it would not grow and was on its way in the opposite direction.  However, I got busy with other things and left it alone.  Now, thanks in great part to my unintentional neglect, I'll have a nice salad for two from this pot.

 

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READING FROM MY GARDEN BOOKS

As I may have mentioned before, central to the mission of Loving Garland Green is increasing our residents awareness of the virtues, pleasures, and importance of gardening. In fact, our byline is:  instead of a chicken in every pot, a garden on every lot.  Kellie Dyer, a science and math educator herself, will be heading up these efforts for Loving Garland Green.

As I continue to procrastinate my self-assigned task to clean out half my garage this morning, I'm looking over and reading again passages from some of my favorite garden books.  Because gardening is such a seasonal activity requiring that gardeners do certain things according to nature's timetable, I'm sure that all of our activities at the Garland Urban Agricultural Center will also follow nature's schedule--from actual gardening to our related educational activities.

Here is a delightful activity--for children and adults:  Making homes for lady bugs. This is an activity that should be undertaken in late August or early September.  Niall Edworthy in his informative and fun to read book, The Curious Gardener's Almanac, tells us how:  

". . . Lady bugs are gardeners good friends as they eat a lot of unwelcome insects.  It's simple to make a home for them to hibernate in over the winter. [Who knew Lady Bugs hibernated?] Wash thoroughly an old can such as one for baked beans. Pack it with wide drinking straws cut to the height of the can. Toward the end of the summer, place  it sideways a few feet off the ground so the rain does not get in. [Perhaps on top of a concrete block with rocks on either side so it doesn't roll off.]  The Lady Bugs, spiders and other insects will be happy to have a warm winter home."

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Lady Bug Homes

Ever the proselytizer for urban agriculture and its positive impact on the local economy, I can't help but to point this out:

An enterprising entrepreneur could create Lady Bug homes and sell them to the public.  A community with 100,000 urban gardens would be a great local market for such a business. (Thus part of the business of Loving Garland Green is to prepare the soil of our local economy by helping to establish a market for product yet to be dreamed up and created.)

Of course, using our example of Lady Bug Homes, that company would have to come up with other garden-related products in order to grow their business, but perhaps if they distributed nationally, having a local market to establish their business might be all they needed.  

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Gardens bring people together and increase community love while growing the local economy by stimulating the development of new markets.

Perhaps readers who didn't before will now see better how encouraging urban agriculture can stimulate the local economy--not just through the direct sale of the produce, but over many other related and local avenues including local investment and financing of many of these activities.  The garden is as infinite as nature in its ability to give and grow local economies.  I've only had a garden for two seasons, but I know enough to realize that no one has enough time to learn all the lessons a garden can teach--even if they were given two lifetimes. 

Gardens bring people together.

Increase urban gardens = increase markets for the local economy.

Increase markets for  local economy = increase the connectedness of the local residents.

Increase the connectedness of the residents = increase the love.

Increase the love = increase the safety, health, prosperity and well-being of all the residents.

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Love of Place--a key factor in the success of any community

As Peter Kageyama points out in his book, For The Love of Cities:  " . . . We see the benefits of love in everything. When children, plants, pets, plants, and even objects are loved, they thrive.  (Compare a car owned by a car lover to one owned by the rest of us.)  The same is true of our places. When we love our city as when we love another person, we will go to extraordinary lengths for them.  When we have an emotional connection to a place, we are less likely to leave it and far more likely to champion it and defend it in the face of criticism. . . . When cities make themselves easier to connect with emotionally--when they make themselves more lovable--they invite the human heart to become the driver of community, economic and social development. . . To help us fall in love with our cities again, we need to see others who are in love with their communities. . . These people are critical to the overall health of their places."

And that is how I see the members of the Planning Committee for Loving Garland Green.  We love our community and we are inviting others to join us in Loving Garland Green.  Together we can grow plants and much more.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, November 9, 2013