Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor
Although gardening can be some work, it is also very relaxing and rewarding in a tangible way. With a small amount of effort, you can nurture plants that are attractive and tasty. Many people think that gardens can simplify your life because they force you to focus on concrete realities. Also, instead of rushing to the store to purchase herbs or tomatoes at the last minute, you can often grow these goodies and have them available all summer (and in small containers in the kitchen all winter) for your favorite recipes.
Not only is gardening great for adults, it can help children (especially city kids) begin to understand the connection between the earth and the food consumed every day. Gardens can even inspire picky eaters to taste veggies they might otherwise shy away from, because who can reject something that they have grown and nurtured?
Gardening can also help kids appreciate the seasons and experience fruits and veggies in their freshest, tastiest form. This kind of experience can leave a lasting impression on little palates.
Caring for Plants
In order to best care for your plants, you'll want to take a careful approach to how you water them. For large potted plants, a good rule of thumb is that you have given them enough water when they are difficult to move with your foot. If they easily slide across the patio, they are probably still thirsty. For window and rail boxes, water the plants just enough so that the water begins to drip out.
Also, to allow for proper drainage for container plants, when placing a plant in a pot, recycle Styrofoam popcorn. Place an upside-down plastic pot inside a container, surround it with Styrofoam, and then pack soil around your plant and on top of the popcorn. This hearty soil-substitute will also make it easier for you to move your container plants, should the need arise.
A Small Space Can Still Be Productive
Even if you only have a postage-sized deck, try keeping a few herbs or plants on your deck. You can start small — grow cherry tomatoes for one season, for example, and see how manageable the work is. You can also grow strawberries (a favorite with kids) in a small container.
Try purchasing plants at a farmers' market that specializes in local, organic produce. You can talk directly to the farmers about ways to make your veggies thrive, and you can be assured that the quality of the plant is high. Also, if something does go wrong with the plants or seedlings you purchase, you can return to the farmers' market and ask additional questions about how to make your plants healthy.
Whatever you choose to do with your own little patch of green, keep in mind that this space allows you the opportunity to create sensory delight — you can grow edibles here, nurture lovely flowers, or create a serene retreat to relax in at the end of the day. The order you bring to the outside of your home need not be as elaborate as the order you seek to cultivate inside your home, but it can certainly be nourishing to your soul and body.
If you are intentional about making your yard a place that is both healthy and beautiful, you will bless your neighbors and yourself. There are millions of ways to do this in your yard. Experiment with different ideas until you're able to create the green space you desire. And whatever you do, cherish the time spent in your yard.
Millions of people in urban areas around the world would relish the opportunity to have a small patch of green to call their own — a place for solitude, reflection, and transformation. As Diane Ackerman writes, “Just cultivate delight. Enjoy the sensory pleasures of the garden. That's number one.” If you can cultivate delight, the rest will fall into place.