Saturday, March 23, 2013

On an Growing Obsession (Part 1)

A seed: One very tiny object with more potential than anyone can fathom. Hold one in your hand and think of the plant it could become. Will it be a giant oak tree? A savory herb? A plant that produces fruit for you to enjoy? Something so small can become something so big and amazing!

Yes, it is the start of growing season again. If my mind is not on work or writing, it is on our garden. This year I find myself even more obsessed with making us self-sustainable for our food. I guess it is the thought of all homesteaders. Mixing soil, shoveling manure, finding ways to reuse packaging as containers to grow seedlings in, discovering innovative ways to make our house look nicer without breaking the bank or the planet - it all swirls around night and day. I've seen some concepts websites such as Backyard Diva and ones that people post on Facebook from places like Pintrest (which I still am not on) and have used a few of these idea. 

Why this obsession with growing food? It seems I was born with a green thumb. My mother had us out in the garden from the time we could follow basic directions. Some of my earliest memories are picking strawberries, asking about cucumbers, and those hot summer days we spent making seemingly endless containers of tomato sauce from scratch. I was just seven when she gave me my own small plot of the garden to grow whatever was the current whim. Flowers, gourds, herbs and more were raised by tiny hands over those years.

Then, there was Old Ben. He was our neighbor and was a farmer. The back acre of his property was lined with rows of veggies. Sometimes we helped him pick the harvest, and occasionally he would pay us for the work. As I got older though, my afternoons were spent sitting on his picnic table, all legs and questions, listening to him talk of the earth, days of old, and how to make food grow. Those were lessons never forgotten, just put aside until the right time.

Even when all I had was a small back deck or front porch, even in the wild weather of Colorado, I was trying to make things grow. Tomatoes, peppers, carrots and more popped out of containers and into the kitchen. The moment we rented a house with a pre-existing garden, I had the ground tilled and a variety planted. Now that we have our own home and land, six beautiful raised beds have been destined for yearly vegetable growth, and two smaller beds are exploding with strawberries. Even a couple of blueberry plants and fig trees are coming around.

In a day and age where people are so disconnected to what they eat, I feel it has become a mission to help others reconnect. It saddens me when students cannot tell me what is in their favorite foods or even where it really came from. Reports of what pesticides, refined sugars, and GMO foods are doing to our bodies are coming out weekly. With Owen having PKU and needing as much fresh food as possible - due to most of what is out there for his condition being processed beyond recognition - there was a need to make a big change. As my own health deteriorated due to Ehlers-Danlos and several secondary disorders, the desire to eliminate chemicals and additives from our diet became urgent. Just as urgent was figuring out a way to grow our own food without aggravating my condition. It has taken several years with a lot of success, and a few failures, to reach our goals. We are more connected to the land, know our food is being grown safely, and have been told by several specialists that I would be a lot worse off right now if those chemicals, additives and sugars were still part of my diet. Part 2 of this series will be about raising organically grown foods in containers or beds without breaking the bank or your back. 

#homesteading, #PKU, #gardening, #organicgardening, #ehlers-danlos,

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