When you harvest your crops they are totally fresh and taste completely different to shop-bought produce. The only distance they’ve travelled is from the plot to the table so there are no food miles involved – only food inches.
Eating fresh vegetables just pulled from the ground or picked from the plant is incredibly good for you because the fresher they are, the more packed with minerals and vitamins they’re going to be. And don’t forget that growing your own means working outside too, providing invaluable exercise.
But it’s not just your physical health that’s improved by growing and eating your own. It is immensely good for the soul – therapeutic in every way. One of the greatest joys of harvesting your own crops is to feel part of the real, natural world around you. Gardening of any kind provides an opportunity to re-establish a relationship with the soil.
Putting back what you take out by feeding the soil makes you an active participant – albeit a tiny one in the earth’s story. Modern living often erases the link we have with the earth or at least disguises it so much that we can’t see or feel it any more. Yet growing food has been the most basic common activity of every civilization. It is fundamental to human existence and to get back down to earth re-establishes our roots.
Cycles of life
To watch the drama of the seasons unfold and to be directly affected by it through what we grow builds a deep connection with the real world. You feel the sunshine on your face as you tend and water, and watch the swallows getting ready to depart as you harvest. You experience the nip in the air as you prepare the plot for the coming year and experience the urgent resurgence of spring’s vital force as seeds are sown and growth commences. You feel part of
Growing In Harmony Three Sisters Beds
Native Americans planted beans between maize and we have used them as one of the three sisters in our own ‘three sisters bed’. In so doing, we are emulating a practice used by Iroquois women when their three most important staple crops – beans, maize and squash – were grown together in a perfect symbiotic relationship.
The women of the tribe were the gardeners and produced most of the food, the men supplementing the vegetables with an occasional deer. The women would walk the ground gathering the soil into a series of mounds a stride apart. In the top of each mound they planted a seed of maize, two weeks later the soil would be drawn up fu and a bean seed would be pushed in beside maize. When both had germinated and started to grow, in would go a squash seed at the foot of the hollow created by building the mound.
As the corn grew, the bean would use it for support whilst at the same time fixing nitrogen in the soil and feeding itself, the corn and also the squash. Meanwhile the squash would benefit from the cool conditions created by the other two whilst spreading its stems hither and thither, its large leaves suppressing weeds and retaining moisture. All three grew up together benefiting from their relationship and producing fruitful crops. It is a perfect example of people growing in harmony with the land.
the cycle of the growing year. So much of life is controlled by arbitrary notions of time – financial years, school holidays, and paying the mortgage or the rent. Growing your own presents you with a more meaningful measure of time – the full circle from sowing seed to eating what you have grown, and then collecting your own seed and starting all over again is what life is really all about.
We have lived at Stornaway Cottage for almost 30 years and I’ve run my nursery business from there for 25 of them. The garden is long, on a south-facing slope nestling into the side of a hill. The soil is heavy clay, hard work – but very fertile. We moved here to escape city life to look for something closer to the earth.
We had two daughters Annalise and Alicia and decided we wanted to feed ourselves so we grew lots of veg and fruit for the first few years. However, eventually raising plants for the nursery and flower shows had to take priority but I always wanted to get back to organic veg gardening and, now the girls are grown up and the nursery is well-established,
I’ve had the opportunity to grow my own on two small plots within the garden. We garden wholly organically. We do not use chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or peat, everything must be as natural, green and eco-friendly as possible in our world!.