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Semele's Riches: Some Earth Day Thoughts

Semele's Riches

Adventures in handmade childhood.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some Earth Day Thoughts

I don't know whether it's the fact that I always take financial inventory around tax time, the fact that I've spent so many hours outdoors, on foot, lately, reading about the Waldorf method of education, or just a reflection of the fact that it's Spring and I am who I am, but I've been thinking a lot about sustainability lately.

There are those who would argue that I have chosen to live in the wrong area of the country if eating locally, low on the food chain, and living a sustainable lifestyle are important to me, but I disagree with that on a lot of levels.  Not only do we have a very developed public transportation system (Wooster Ohio's public transportation system basically amounts to some folks with vans who pick up the Amish, for a fee, when called.  This is neighborly and efficient, but not very broadly based.), there are farmer's markets, community gardens, CSAs, and informational organizations everywhere you turn. Plus, a great many neighborhoods are within walking distance of all the major amenities. Although I do not often avail myself of the abundant public transportation, I am blessed with a large yard which COULD be turned to an opportunity to grow some of our own food, if I applied myself to it, especially with all the community support for gardening available.
Making a Start
I've planted three varieties of yellow daisy this year, in honor of the Wise and Wonderful Betty Gray.
I have not done much (okay, let's be real here, any) gardening since Ian was born, which is kind of too bad because I really do love to muck around in the dirt.  At first, I was realistic enough to know I didn't have time to garden with a newborn (okay, back to being real here, at first, I was approaching the size and land-based agility of a baby Orca, then I had a baby four months after we moved in and was on restricted activity for six more weeks, so planting anything was not going to happen.)  Now that he's older and could be trusted to garden alongside me, however, what's been holding me back is more complicated.

I've had it in my head that I have to do everything "right."  I didn't start the seeds on the right day, do I really have time to go out and turn the bed to a depth of 24", oh, man, we haven't been composting so I have no soil amendments, the deer will eat everything... and on and on and on.  After I spent some time reading two new-to-me blogs (I found one from the other, but honestly I can't tell you how I got to the first one), Possum Living and Granny Miller, I woke up this morning with a revelation.

Okay, more of a memory.  I remembered that the best garden yield I've ever gotten was from the "worst" garden I ever had.  My first husband and I (well, more I, I suppose) got permission from our landlord to put in a teeny, weeny garden plot behind the building where we lived.  It was probably two feet by four feet of piss-poor (pardon the expression) soil amended with nothing but the parking lot gravel, inches from the parking spots, and blasted by unrelenting sun all day.  Its biggest advantage as a garden site was that it got a steady drip of water from the air conditioning unit a few feet above.

We proceeded to do everything wrong.  We jammed way too many plants in any which way, we didn't mulch, if we applied fertilizer of any kind it would shock me, and we just generally left it alone except to eat what we grew.  Which was more tomatoes and herbs than we knew what to do with.  I got some pretty decent, hardy marigolds from it, too.

So the moral of the story, for me, anyway, is not to let perfectionism hold me back from growing some small part of our own food this year.  I will be putting in some of the fresh herbs I love so much and which are so expensive to purchase, a tomato plant or two, and perhaps Ian and I will try our hand at growing our own Halloween pumpkins this year.  I have already started some tomato and cilantro seeds and selected a site for the new garden patch.  I've also planned to put some herbs in the unconventional location of the garden bed outside the front door.  (Why not?  They're pretty, the deer don't graze there because it's too close to the house, and I'm not really growing anything else there.)

And, more to the point, I will give Ian a stake in this.  Because if I've let go of the idea that I'll do it "perfectly," then there is room for him to dig in the dirt with me, sow seeds exuberantly, and be completely, over-the-top excited when they grow, whether they are "perfectly" successful or not.  Which is, if we are going to keep on "being real" here, the best harvest I could possibly desire.



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