It’s that time of year, when gardeners wait patiently for their seeds to sprout: zucchini, beans, cucumbers, parsley, to name a few. But those seeds that were put in the ground in April (National Gardening Month) or May will need to wait until the ground warms up for the plants to start to grow.
If anything, a garden teaches you patience. It forces you to slow down and accept the rhythm of nature. It can take hours to weed and water, and a lot of time is spent figuring out how to banish the critters that want to feast on the fruits of your labors when everything starts to push its way out of the ground. Hint: Instead of toxic pesticides, good options include clove oil and insecticidal soap. They are effective, but they are slow.
Somehow, you learn to wait, to stay calm, to breathe the fresh air and turn inward. “It is the place I go to contemplate,” says Helen Yoest, veteran garden designer and author of Plants with Benefits. “I like taking gardens to a deeper level of fulfillment.”
“A big part of organic gardening comes down to a mindset,” says Stephen Orr, author of Tomorrow’s Garden. “Organic gardeners tend to allow for more imperfection in their gardens, whether it’s a few bug-eaten leaves, a less-than-pristine lawn, or a year where the roses are given over to hungry thrips. You have to be a little Zen.”
Believe it or not, gardening is also good exercise. In half an hour of actively gardening, you can burn 170 calories. Planting seedlings can burn 150; weeding a garden, 170; raking, 130 calories; bagging leaves, 130 calories; digging dirt, 190; trimming shrubs (with a power tool), 110; pushing the lawn mower, 210.
In Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening, author Deborah L. Martin offers up 10 Steps to Garden Success:
1. Choose a site.
2. Prepare the site.
3. Select seeds and plants.
4. Start seeds indoors.
5. Sow seeds and plant seedlings
6. Care for your plants.
7. Harvest what you’ve grown.
8. Extend the season.
9. Clean up and prepare for winter.
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