For years I have dreamt of a garden. A garden to call my own. On my travels through Vietnamese mountain ranges in dilapidated buses and sitting in Zen temples in Japan I dreamed of a place to plant daffodills and strawberries. A little patch of earth to call my own.
This post marks a year to the day that that dream began. It is still very much a work in progress. But being a natural growing thing, it always will be. But oh what a work! There is something for every season and every time I walk around it, my soul soars. It really is our very own little patch of paradise on earth. One which we share with a robin, two blackbirds, multiple pigeons, sparrows and crows, butterflies blue, white and red, assorted worms, and less welcome slugs, wasps and mosquitoes.
There is nothing otherworldly about our garden. It is a small patch of earth in a housing estate.
The house that we moved into had a small, but perfectly formed garden. But it was entirely ornamental with large swathes of gravel. So our project for the year has been to transform it into a productive garden: a garden to nourish body and soul.
Within a week of being here I put in my herb garden that I had yearned for. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, so the song goes, as well as lemon balm, lavender and chamomile to calm and soothe, bay for stocks and stews, fennel to stuff fish and dill and mint for potato salads and stomach easing tissanes. My repertoire of herbal books is growing, my witchy fingers are itching to make potions!
This year should be fruitful: in have gone currants black and red, raspberries red and gold, as well as strawberries big and small, and yet more berries: logan, blue and even goji. An apple and a pear tree and our two beautiful ornamental cherries which we have been picnicking under every sunny day this Spring.
For veggies we have very little: spinach, lettuce and peas. But we live next to an incredible organic glasshouse, so to try to reproduce what we can get there is foolhardy. We have gone beyond the desire for total self sufficiency – there lies madness! But ensuring a certain level of food resilience and wonderful fresh produce for our family is a strong motivator. As is teaching our children about the processes of life and growth, where food comes from and how they can get involved with the process.
We have three chickens (Osama and the Generals) who live beneath the trampoline and provide our golden yolked eggs for my myriad cakes. I loved having chickens as a child and my kids do too. Again they provide a grounding in the circle of life – food scraps become treasured eggs and become food once more. My kids know where eggs come from, what chickens eat, and know when we eat chicken that this is what it once was.
We have a fire circle in the middle of our lawn for burning prunings, ceremonial and celebratory bonfires – and toasting marshmallows. We are not quite sure of the legality of this!
We are not students of permaculture, but its ideas have influenced us. We are aware of the process of life within our garden: our remaining kitchen waste goes into compost and a worm bin to nourish the plants that nourish us once more. We try to be as energy neutral as possible, thanks to my husband’s environmental interests. We collect the water from the sky in our water butt to service our garden needs. We use a manual lawn mower (great fun and so much quieter!)
We try to keep as native as possible with our planting, being mindful of plants which provide food for the birds and the bees. We are also letting some so-called weeds to join our planting – the beautiful blue speedwell, red campion and dead nettle are welcome here, as are daisies and dandelions: we use as few chemicals as possible. However, we are tough with nettles, briars and Japanese knotweed which can quickly take over, we cut and rip and sometimes spray.
In a small plot there are many restrictions and compromises. The chickens (and the compost and worm bin next to them) can get smelly, so I have planted roses and sweet peas around them. We have no room for soft fruit, so the strawberries are planted to cover a bare bank of earth on our boundary, the raspberries and salad are in tubs, whilst the blackcurrants act as a hedge. It is good fun having to be resourceful and creative with our space.
We are stewards of this little plot of planet Earth that a piece of paper in a bank vault says that we “own”. We treat it with love and care so that it might nurture us with its fruitfulness and beauty. So that in this little patch we and our children might learn skills that we take out to the Earth outside our garden wall: reverence for life, resourcefulness, a rejoicing in the seasons, knowing how we might live within natural limits, creating abundance not destruction, goodness not toxicity and celebrating natural bounty. Every day I am grateful for the grass beneath our feet, the daffodils, cherry blossom and ripe strawberries. It is a living example of the magic which happens when nature, love, vision and work are combined.
Visit Monkey Butt Junction
and Child of the Nature Isle
to read all about the Earth Day Blog Carnival
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:(This list will be live and updated on April 22 with all the carnival links.)
***Going Green in 2011 – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the way she and her family are going “greener” in 2011.
Our Greatest Teacher – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares her experiences with her children and nature, their greatest teacher.
Dreaming of Spring Gardening – Erin of the Waterloons talks about the ultimate in local food, her backyard garden.
Earth Conscious Minimalism – Nada at miniMOMist thinks minimalism can help you save the world — as long as you don’t just toss everything in the trash! Check out Her list of places to donate (bet you haven’t thought of them all!).
Blessings to the Earth – Amy at Anktangle believes that a simple act, such as being intentionally grateful for our food, is just the catalyst we need to bring about large-scale change.
Eight Movies to Inspire Change – Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her top 8 movies that have inspired her to take action to make the world a better place. She’d love to hear your suggestions to add to her viewing list!
Can I Have a Green Period Too? Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the environmental impact of switching to sustainable menstrual products, along with offering a great Mama Cloth giveaway for anyone interested in making the switch (and for those who already have and want to increase their stash!).
An Eden to Call Our Own – Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how learning to care for the Earth starts in her own garden.
Elimination Communication – Melissa at the New Mommy Files discusses the environmental impact of diapering, and why elimination communication was the best choice for her family.
The Living Earth: A Meditation in Science and Reverence – Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante asks you to pause to wonder at the blessing of the fact that our living planet is here at all.
Earth Day Anthem – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro created a poem in honor of Mother Earth, women and nurturers everywhere.
The Plasticity of Compromise – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how she is working to compromise on healthy family living and avoiding plastics whenever possible.
Earth Day Resolutions – Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares why she has decided to make Earth Day resolutions, what those resolutions are, and how they are a step up from her current efforts at green living.
Is it time for you to say “Enough!”? Mrs Green at My Zero Waste asks you to rise up and say ‘Enough!’ on Earth Day.
Homeschooling with the Earth – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares her desires and dreams for Earth-based learning and the ways her two young children have already started a natural curriculum.
Beyond the Green Sheen – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction offers some advice on how to avoid greenwashing and make purchasing choices that really have a positive impact.