Gardening for LIFE!
by Mary Louise.Town Jaqua, Health Minister 4/5/2020

In the spring a young man's or womans' fancy turns to....gardening!
Yes, it is that time of year to be thinking about 'getting down to earth'
by planting your own personal garden. Consider the effort as an
insurance policy for your better health if not survival. Investing in the
ancient art of gardening pays great dividends since it feeds both
body and spirit!

While many people are regular, old time gardeners, those new to
the sport find that, in more ways than one, gardening is a growing
experience since there is much to learn! While mistakes can and often
have happy endings, educating one's self about gardening methods
can make the difference between a bountiful harvest or a dismal failure.

GARDENING: Where to start
Education is the best way to start gardening! Research the vast subject
of gardening by reading books, magazines, or articles on-line in order
to gain knowledge about growing methods, especially ones that may
best suit your situation. For added support search out local farmers and
home gardeners to gain valuable insight concerning approaches that
work for them and why. Learning from veteran growers is usually advice
well given and taken plus it's free, so cultivating friendships with other
garden enthusiasts can pay big dividends.

Before putting your hands to the hoe, shovel or plow, and digging into
the soil, consider the all-important strategy called approach. There are
many ways to garden but determining the best approach depends on
one's lifestyle and 'lay of the land.' While many people have land that
can be easily turned into garden space, some people do not. Thus
gardening can turn into a creative experience that defies convention.
This being said, investigate the common garden types to determine
what approach best suits your lifestyle and available resources.

  • Traditional- a designated garden space in the yard.The area
    should be free of weeds/underbrush, the soil broken up/tilled,
    have good run-off, and have full sun most of the day.

  • Raised beds- sectioned areas that are raised up from the
    ground and therefore easier to work without strain on knees
    and back.

  • Container gardens- convenient way to garden when land space
    is not available or preferred. Favorite planting containers include
    ceramic pots, barrels, bags, wooden boxes, window boxes, old
    kitchen pots, etc. Container gardens can be highly productive,
    making them a popular approach to gardening since containers
    can be placed most anywhere where there is sufficient sun.

  • Straw bale gardens- utilizes bales of straw as a growing
    medium instead of soil.

  • Hydroponic gardens- growing in water as opposed to soil.

  • Vertical gardens- a space-saving approach for growing in
    small or difficult-to-cultivate areas

Depending on climate and/or preference, gardening can be done
outdoors, indoors, in greenhouses, and cold frames. While growing
strategies are seemingly endless, choosing an approach that is
simple, convenient, and within your budget delivers the best results
for your efforts.

GARDENING: What to grow
Deciding what to grow is based upon factors that need to be
considered. Determine what to grow according to

  1. what you like to eat

  2. what is easy to grow

  3. what grows best in your area

  4. what you can comfortably fit into your space

Planning a garden according to these parameters will simplify
your growing experience, making it easier and ultimately more
productive. While growing vegetable varieties is most popular,
consider planting herbs, flowers, and fruit in your garden. After
all, variety is the spice of life!

GARDENING: When to grow
Generally speaking, it is safe to start gardening after the danger
of frost has passed. Depending on one's locale/climate, early
to late May begins the garden season in northern climes. Check
weather stats for your respective area and plan your planting
strategy accordingly. Also keep in mind the ancient science of
planting by moon phases, since some plants are best planted
in a wanning or a waxing moon. Planting according to the rhythm
and magnetic pull of the moon proves historically to increase

GARDENING: How to grow
While garden how-to's are countless, there are basic principles
that, when applied, can ensure a good harvest. A few good
'rules of (green) thumb' are

  1. use good soil- the health and quality of your garden crops
    depends upon soil that is rich in nutrients. Most gardeners
    test their soil through state-run agricultural labs. Lab results
    will help determine what, if anything, should be added to
    the soil to make it more growing-friendly. Avoid using
    commercial-type planting soils that contain questionably-
    sourced organic matter and chemicals.

  2. use quality seeds- organic, heirloom seeds have better
    'growing power,' since they have retained their DNA
    integrity. i.e. have not be hybridized. Heirloom seed
    varieties are thus stronger and more resilient to disease
    which makes them healthier and more productive.

  3. give plants space- giving plants plenty of room to grow
    produces a healthier plant and thus a more productive
    harvest. Crowding plants stunts their growth and can
    encourage mold and disease.

  1. use natural fertilizers- naturally-sourced and formulated
    fertilizers exist which, when applied, boost production.
    One fail-safe fertilizer is manure from local, organic

  2. use mulch- keep your garden moist and at the same time
    discourage weeds by mulching. Mulch also adds nutrients
    to the soil. Popular mulches include straw, leaves, news-
    papers, coconut coir, and more.

  3. compost- decompose vegetable and fruit scraps so that
    they will turn into super-healthy, microbe-rich soil. Compost
    can be added to the garden before, during, and after planting.
    Making and applying a compost tea as a natural fertilizer boosts
    plant life, but should be used sparingly since it is very powerful.

  4. use good tools- a well-designed tool makes gardening easier,
    so consider investing in quality tools. If the budget does not
    exist to purchase expensive tools, search yard sales and thrift
    stores for the tools that you need.

  5. use good water- be kind to your plants by watering them with
    naturally-sourced water (rain, well, spring) rather than city

GARDENING: Protection
Once planted, gardening is relatively easy. Nevertheless, plants
(like children) need attention as they grow. Therefore it is wise to
check plants daily to monitor their growth. In the event that the
plants appear to be endangered, the problem(s) should be
identified and protective measures taken.

  1. infestations- insects, bugs, unfriendly worms, mold, blight,

  2. invaders- moles, mice, ground hogs, dogs, cats, predatory
    birds, deer, etc.

  3. cold/frost- sudden temperature dips that can freeze/kill

Generally speaking, naturally-sourced solutions solve most
garden problems. Natural insect repellents exist, home-made or
otherwise. Likewise, invasions by vermin can be solved by natural
means, including trapping. Protecting plants from cold can be done
by investing in specially-formulated (but expensive) row covering
or by using budget-friendly plastic sheeting, old bedspreads, etc.

Gardening is an adventure that is both invigorating and rewarding
as it enlivens both body and spirit. Connecting with the earth and
being part of the growing process is relaxing, for it fosters a distinct
sense of peace and healing that can only be experienced up-close-
Studies show that gardening can improve and/or
eliminate bad attitudes, violent behavior, and more. Thus the benefits
of gardening go beyond the soil and the harvest in that they can
change lives for the better.

While the advantages of having a garden are numerous, engaging
in the growing process does require a measure of commitment,
personal responsibility, and sometimes hard work. To offset what
some might call the drudgery of gardening, consider partnering with
family, friends or being part of a community garden. Many localities
now set aside garden space for residental use. This option is worth
investigating, especially for first-timers. No matter what option you
choose, make your gardening experience a fun one!

Gardening has been part of the social landscape for thousands of
years. It is woven into the fabric of man's lifestyle as the foundation
of his well being and survival, especially in times of hardship. In this
present world of increasing uncertainty, planting a garden makes good
sense. Having a food source in the backyard, on the patio, in the house
or wherever could prove to be the best investment that you ever made.

O taste and see that YHVH is good: blessed
is the man that trusteth in him.- Psalms 34:8

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou
mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy
soul prospereth.- 3 John 1:2



Garden Helps- recommended gardening resources
from the LIVING Way

Garden Log- Helpful tips, insight, reports, and ramblings
from the LIVING Way's once-upon-a-time backyard farmer

Johnny's Selected Seeds

Fedco Seeds

Seed Savers

Raised Wooden Garden Bed Designs

Straw Bale Gardens

Vertical Garden Ideas


Sowing Seeds: Everything You Need to Know

Gardening on a Budget.

Sprout Gardening

Organic Gardening with John Kohler

Gardener Scott

Gardening advice from GrowVeg

Gardening with Charles Dowding

Organic Container Gardening

Grow salads in plastic bags


Back to LIVING Letter #112 / Index